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FLEET STREET IN SEVEN 
CENTURIES 




ST. BRIDE S STEEPLE FROM SALISBURY SQUARE 
Drawn by Hanslip Fletcher 



FLEET STREET 

IN SEVEN CENTURIES 

BEING A HISTORY OF THE GROWTH OF LONDON 

BEYOND THE WALLS INTO THE WESTERN 

LIBERTY, AND OF FLEET STREET 

TO OUR TIME 



BY 

WALTER GEORGE BELL 

Author of " The Thames from Chelsea to the Nore " 
WITH A FOREWORD BY 

SIR WILLIAM PURDIE TRELOAR, Bt. 

Alderman of Farringdon Without 

FORTY-SIX ILLUSTRATIONS 

Drawings by T. R. Way, Hanslip Fletcher, 

R. Anning Bell, T. E. Knightley; reproductions 

of old prints, maps, original documents, and 

photographs 



LONDON! SIR ISAAC PITMAN AND SONS, LTD. 
NO. 1 AMEN CORNER, EX. !I II I912 



Printed by Sir Isaac Pitman 
& Sons, Ltd., London, Bath 
and New York - - 1912 







FOREWORD 

" Fleet Street is all newspapers," I hear someone say. 

That is not quite true, but let us grant cheerfully that the 
newspapers have made the modern fame of the street. They 
have familiarised its name in the most distant corners of the 
world, and will introduce this book to a wider public than 
is to be found in the City, though in pages crowded with 
so much incident Mr. Bell allots but small space to the news- 
paper press. And the street is linked with its staple industry 
in a manner more intimate than can be claimed for any other 
distinctive area of London. " The Fleet Street Man," wherever 
you meet him, is marked down as a journalist, so completely 
has every other association been forgotten in our day. 

The City of London is very old, and in its long unbroken 
history the newspapers are but things of yesterday. Herein 
you will read less of what Fleet Street is than of what it was, 
and there are probably few who will not agree that its record 
over seven centuries past rivals in interest the busy, hustling 
life of the street to-day. Fleet Street became in the mediaeval 
age the chief western highway into the City, the connecting 
landway with the king's palace and the courts at Westminster. 
Its story is very largely that of the City itself. But the develop- 
ment of the great Ward of Farringdon Without — that is to 
say, without the walls — differed very greatly from that of the 
City within the walls, and in tracing that development from the 
time of the first settlements of ecclesiastics in the then rural 
suburb Mr. Bell has done a work that will be valued by all to 
whom the fascination of London's past makes an appeal. 

Memories of great men linger in Fleet Street and its many 
courts and byways — and there were great men before Samuel 
Johnson, whose vigorous personality comes first to mind when 
Fleet Street is mentioned. The lawyers have always kept 
about the street. The first printers congregated there ; the 
booksellers when the trade of book-production became split 
up ; the poets and authors who wrote for the booksellers — 
Lovelace, Milton, Dryden, Goldsmith, Richardson, to name 



vi FOREWORD 

but a few. The newspapers carry on the tradition that was 
formed long before they came. But Fleet Street has much 
else besides its legal and literary associations and early guild 
life. The stage flourished in Whitefriars from Elizabeth till 
past the Restoration. Low life was to be met with in Alsatia, 
and in the Fleet Liberty, with its debtors and dissolute parsons. 
Fleet Street's convivial side is illustrated in its many historical 
taverns. I have been called the Alderman of the World, the 
Flesh, and the Devil — Fleet Street for the World, the Central 
Meat Market and the Temple for the rest, for all lie within the 
Ward of Farringdon Without. 

Perhaps if you search the City through you will find no other 
street which has known life in such inexhaustible variety. 
To myself, who have loved the district all my life and resided 
in it for most of my early years, there is no place so packed with 
human interest as the Ward of Farringdon Without, of which 
Fleet Street is the centre. 

W. P. Treloar. 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

" No man can write the history of Fleet Street," I read in a 
book recently published. 

Well, this is a history of the street, and the most that can 
be hoped is that it may serve until the fuller work — of, say, 
ten volumes — shall be produced. 

With Fleet Street itself I have been chiefly concerned ; not 
a long street, but with a record perhaps more ample than any 
other. Inevitably my task has expanded. London's history 
has been written in many aspects, but it is curious that hitherto 
no one has attempted a study of its growth beyond the 
walled city into the Liberties, or suburbs. Till near the close 
of Elizabeth's reign Fleet Street was habitually referred to 
as "in the suburb of London." It possessed many large 
gardens, and some open meadow land. Indeed, to this day 
part of its meadow has never been built upon. The Temple 
Gardens have so remained since the Knights Templars' first 
settlement in the twelfth century. A fragment of Ficket's 
Croft, the jousting-ground of the Knights Templars, has been 
restored to the public in the now sadly diminished gardens 
of the Law Courts, and further beyond Temple Bar a more 
substantial portion of this open ground survives in New 
Square, Lincoln's Inn. 

If value of any kind attaches to this book, it is in the earlier 
chapters which contain the results of research into the con- 
ditions of the western suburb in mediaeval times, and its 
conversion to a closely built town area under Elizabeth and 
James the First. Despite all the change that later centuries 
have brought, it bears to-day upon its face the stamp of its 
origin ; and no part of my task has given me greater pleasure 
than that of showing how the byways and courts we know 
are largely a result, first of the settlement of ecclesiastics and 
religious Orders about the street, and afterwards of the building 
over of the gardens and fore-courts of their town dwellings. 
A valuable work for London's topography lies before the 
student with time and patience to make himself familiar with 
the confiscations of properties of the religious houses by King 

vii 



viii AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

Henry the Eighth, and the subsequent grants by that 
monarch, of which the records are lying at the Public Record 
Office. The little done in the particular corner of outer 
London which I have been concerned with, and shown graphic- 
ally in a reconstructed map of the area for the years 1538-40, 
may possibly stimulate someone with more leisure than I can 
command to undertake the task. 

I have, perhaps, dealt with the Whitefriars playhouses in 
greater detail than the scale of the book warrants, but this 
can be pleaded should the reader become weary : they have 
been so greatly overshadowed by the neighbouring Blackfriars 
Theatre and the Bankside theatres that their true place in 
the annals of the English stage has rarely been allotted to 
them. Only of recent years have the researches of Mr. Fleay, 
Mr. Fairman Ordish, and Mr. J. Tucker Murray cleared away 
a mesh of confusion and inaccuracy. 

After the rebuilding of Fleet Street that followed the Great 
Fire of London in 1666, there has been little left but to tell 
an already familiar story, as briefly as may be. 

Many tributaries run north and south of Fleet Street, and 
these I have sketched in but lightly. They would alone 
provide material for other volumes, perhaps more slim than 
this one can claim to be. The Temple itself would fill a book- 
case with its literature ; in Dr. Bellot's bibliography of the 
Temple, edition of 1902, there are 197 entries, and additions 
since then would largely increase the total. In these pages 
no more is attempted than to place the Temple in its relation 
to the suburb before the Fire. 

I am conscious of having worried a great many people in 
the years during which this book has been in preparation, and in 
paying acknowledgments the trouble is to know where to stop. 
Every writer upon London is the inheritor of the labours of 
Dr. Reginald Sharpe, Keeper of the Records at Guildhall, 
whose calendars of the Letter Books and the Husting Wills 
especially have thrown a flood of light upon the conditions of 
its mediaeval life. To him, and to the City Corporation, whose 
munificence in the publication of their records receives scant 
recognition, my largest debt is due. The Rev. H. Lionel 
James, Rector of St. Dunstan's, and the Rev. William Cartledge 
Heaton, Vicar of St. Bride's, have generously allowed me to 
live in their vestry rooms while consulting the records, so 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE ix 

admirably kept, of the two parishes, and for the attentions 
given by the late Mr. Strange, Parish Clerk of St. Dunstan's, 
and Mr. A. Peart, Parish Clerk of St. Bride's, I am grateful. 

Dr. Philip Norman, Treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries, 
has kindly assisted me out of the stores of his knowledge of 
old London taverns. Mr. Aleck Abrahams, an ardent collector 
of all that relates to Fleet Street, has given invaluable help. 
I have also to thank Mr. Scargill Bird, late of the Public 
Record Office ; Mr. R. A. Peddie, Librarian of the unrivalled 
technical library of the St. Bride Foundation Institute, and 
the trustees of that institute ; Mr. George Bedell, Registrar of 
the Medical Society of London ; Mr. A. W. Clapham, F.S.A. ; 
the Earl of Londesborough ; Mr. A. P. Moore, Assistant 
Diocesan Registrary of Peterborough ; Mr. Knight, Clerk of 
Christ's Hospital ; Sir James Mellor, late King's Remem- 
brancer ; Mr. John Brewer, late Receiving Clerk of Bridewell ; 
Mr. James Maclntyre, of whose knowledge of mediaeval Latin 
I have freely availed myself ; Mr. D. W. Douthwaite, Under- 
Treasurer of Gray's Inn ; Messrs. Child and Co. ; and many 
others for their assistance and forbearance. My thanks in 
liberal measure are due to Sir William Treloar for his Foreword ; 
to Mr. Stephen Glanville, who has burdened himself with the 
heavy task of reading the proofs, and to my wife for help in 
the chapter on the theatres. 

Mr. T. R. Way, Mr. Hanslip Fletcher, and my brother, Mr. 
R. Anning Bell, have all drawn specially for this book ; and 
in addition Mr. Hanslip Fletcher and his publishers have 
generously given me permission to reproduce work of his that 
has appeared elsewhere. I regret that Mr. T. E. Knightley 
no longer lives to receive my acknowledgments. 

Gray's Inn. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 



I. 
II. 

III. 

IV. 

V. 

VI. 

VII. 

VIII. 

IX. 

X. 

XI. 

XII. 

XIII. 

XIV. 

XV. 

XVI. 

XVII. 

XVIII. 

XIX. 

XX. 

XXI. 

XXII. 

XXIII. 

XXIV. 



foreword 

author's preface 

without the walls of london 

the knights templars 

the medieval suburb 

lawyers in the street 

white friars 

annals of the middle ages 

a pageant of fleet street 

the first printers 

change at the reformation 

the martyred vicar of st. bride's 

rebellion 

fleet street before the fire 

ALSATIA . . 

THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 

PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 

BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 

THE FLEET PARSONS 

LITERARY LANDMARKS 

THE AGE OF JOHNSON 

THE CHEESE AND THE COCK 

OLD TAVERNS AND COFFEE-HOUSES 

NO. 1 FLEET STREET 

WHEN THE NEWSPAPERS CAME 

NEWSPAPERS OF TO-DAY 

APPENDIX. — I. LIVING OF ST. DUNSTAN'S WEST. 

II. ST. BRIDE'S WELL. III. PAGEANT OF ST. 

DUNSTAN. IV. BISHOP OF SALISBURY'S LANDS 

IN FLEET STREET. V. INCUMBENTS OF ST. 

BRIDE'S. VI. INCUMBENTS OF ST. DUNSTAN'S 
INDEX . . . . 



PAGE 

V 

vii 

1 

21 

38 

72 

97 

130 

163 

183 

196 

222 

230 

242 

277 

305 

338 

366 

396 

420 

444 

472 

483 

508 

533 

560 



581 
592 



XI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



I. St. Bride's Steeple from Salisbury Square 

Drawn by Hanslip Fletcher Frontispiece 

PAGE 

II. Queen Elizabeth's Statue at St Dunstan's 

Church ....... 42 

Drawn by R. Anning Bell 

III. Mathew Paris's Drawing of the Converts' 

Chapel 80 

IV. Temple Bar in the Cowdray Picture . . 94 
V. Ancient Horse-shoes, paid as Quit-Rent to the 

King 95 

VI. Plan of the Carmelite Priory at the Sup- 
pression ....... 103 

By A. W. Clapham, F.S.A. 
VII. Vault of the Carmelite Priory under Brittons 

Court, Whitefriars ..... 107 

VIII. Old Buildings in Fleet Street . . .142 

From, a Drawing of unknown date 
IX. Ancient Houses in Fleet Street . . .142 

From a Print in Hughson's London 
X. Old Serjeants Inn, Chancery Lane . . 143 

XI. Plan of Fleet Street at the Reformation, 

1538-40 206 

Showing Property owned by the Religious Houses 
and Clergy 
XII. Surrender of the Carmelite Priory in Fleet 
Street and other Possessions of the Order 

to Henry VIII 211 

From the Original Document in the Public Record 
Office 

XIII. Edward Sackville, Fourth Earl of Dorset . 218 

From the Portrait by Vandyke at Knole 

XIV. Old Houses near Temple Bar . . .219 

From a Print by Capon 
XV. The Blood Bowl, Hanging Sword Alley . 297 

From the Engraving by Hogarth 
XVI. The Whitefriars Glassworks .... 304 
Drawn by T. R. Way 
XVII. Site of Carmelite Friars' Refectory . . 307 

XVIII. Site of Whitefriars Theatres . . . 313 

XIX. Dorset Garden Theatre, Land Front . . 324 

From Wilkinson's Londina Illustrata 

xiii 



XIV 

XX. 

XXI. 

• XXII. 

-XXIII. 

XXIV. 

XXV. 

XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 

XXIX. 



XXX. 

XXXI. 

XXXII. 

XXXIII. 

XXXIV. 
XXXV. 

XXXVI. 

XXXVII. 

XXXVIII. 

XXXIX. 

XL. 

XLI. 
XLII. 

XLIII. 

XLIV. 
XLV. 

XLVI. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOI 

Dorset Garden Theatre, River Front . . 325 

From a Coloured Print 
Area Burnt in the Great Fire of London . . 349 

Based on Streete and Shortgrave's Exact Survey 
Wren's Plan for Rebuilding London . . 371 

Evelyn's Plan for Rebuilding London . . 373 

Crane Court, Fleet Street .... 392 

Sarah Malcolm, Murderess .... 393 

From a Print of Hogarth's Portrait 
Heads Exposed on Temple Bar . . . 408 

Alderman Waithman's Shop .... 408 

Fleet Prison and Farringdon Street. . . 409 

From a Drawing by Shepherd 

Oliver Goldsmith's Chambers at No. 2 Brick 
Court, Temple ...... 423 

Drawn by Hanslip Fletcher 

Goldsmith's House in Wine Office Court . 428 

Drawn by Hanslip Fletcher 

Dryden's House in Fetter Lane . . . 442 

Drawn by T. E. Knightley 

Old Houses in Red Lion Court. . . . 448 

Drawn by T. R. Way 
Racquet Court, Fleet Street . . . 468 

Drawn by Hanslip Fletcher 

Cock Tavern Token ..... 481 

Carved Sign of the Cock Tavern . . . 482 

Drawn by R. Anning Bell 

Devil Tavern Token ..... 484 

Dr. Johnson's House in Johnson's Court . 492 

Rainbow Coffee-house Token . . . 503 

The Marigold, Sign of Child's Bank . .517 
Drawn by R. Anning Bell 

The Three Squirrels, Sign of Gosling's Bank 517 

Drawn by R. Anning Bell 
Tallis's Panorama of Fleet Street . . 526 

Mrs. Salmon's Waxwork, No. 189 Fleet Street 536 
From a Print by Nathaniel Smith 

Mail Coach Arriving at Temple Bar . . 537 

From a Coloured Print 
The First Daily Newspaper .... 550 
Richard Carlile's Protest Against Church 
Rates 551 

From A Scourge, Carlile's weekly paper 
Cartoon of the Newspaper Press . . . 574 

From a Coloured Print of 1829 



ERRATA 

Page 55, footnote, read " Close Roll 22nd Ed. III." 
Page 167, line 18, for " nineteen " read " twenty-six." 
Page 514, last line, for " chapter " read " chapters." 
Page 518, line 9, delete "and of," and read, line 12, 
" the first stable one — are the fine premises east of the 
square to-day in use by the Church of England Sunday 
School Institute." 

Page 579, line 31, for " Fetter Lane " read " Chancery 
Lane." 

On page 452, after first paragraph, add : " Also in Bolt 
Court the Dr. Johnson Music Hall flourished nearly half a 
century ago. In its later days it was called the ' City,' 
and, after finally closing as a place of public entertainment, 
it became the Albert Club, a centre of some interest to the 
newspapers, for there and at one other similar club the 
London betting prices were fixed. The building was 
demolished in 1912." 



FLEET STREET IN SEVEN 
CENTURIES 



CHAPTER I 

WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 

Of all those noted thoroughfares within the walls and liberties of the 
famous old City of London, there is no one that can compete in its 
history and celebrity with Fleet Street. You may produce your 
Cheapside with its centuries of recollections, your Lombard Street 
with all its riches, your Cornhill with all its commerce, your Exchange 
with all its men of mark, even your famous old Bishopsgate with 
its princely remains of Crosby Hall ; but there is not one among 
them that can equal that one street which takes its name from the 
old Fleet River, and extends from Ludgate Hill to Temple Bar. — 
T. C. Noble, Memorials of Temple Bar. 

An old grey wall cutting square across the hill-crest, a little 
stream flowing below between deep banks, filled high when 
the tide rose, and on the right the full flood of the Thames. 
Beyond, what had been a Roman city, left desolate and 
decayed, but not altogether abandoned ; few, if any, of the 
buildings lofty enough to show above the guarding wall that 
had defied the centuries. In the broken foreground trees and 
herbage, and perhaps a hut or two — that is more doubtful — 
and near to the tributary stream a spring of pure water that 
welled to the surface, and trickled over its bank : the spring, 
or well, of St. Bridget the Virgin. These, and perhaps a worn 
path keeping parallel with the river, are all that can be 
recognised of London's western Liberty when history opens. 
Lying below ground are relics associated with times long 
past, when St. Bridget's spring ran clear and free. In excava- 
tions to the clay made in 1893 for an extension of Messrs. Ward 
and Lock's premises by Bridewell Precinct, the navvies brought 
upa" coffin." It proved on examination to be not this, but 
an object of much greater interest — part of an ancient water 
conduit, formed of timber baulks roughly squared, in which 
a channel had been adzed, and covered by a top piece fixed 

l 
i— (2246) 



2 FLEET STREET 

with iron spikes, each baulk meeting that next in line in the 
old spigot and faucet joint. 

The trench cut, being narrow, was widened sufficiently 
where the ground was broken for more of the timbers to be 
exposed. Levels and alignment made plain that the conduit 
had brought water to the old Palace of Bridewell, by the 
Thames side, with its head at the spring upon, or very close to, 
a now disused well and pump built into the eastern wall of 
the churchyard in Bride Lane. An inscription above has been 
completely effaced by time, and its legend forgotten. That 
this is the historic Bride Well thus receives some confirmation. 
The spring gave its name to the parish of St. Bride, and to 
Bridewell, which became the distinctive title for both a palace 
and a prison. 

The Fleet still flows by, a buried river passing into the 
low-level (Embankment) sewer, but on occasion of storm may 
be turned direct into the Thames at Blackfriars. It descends 
underground immediately on leaving the lowest of the two 
chains of ponds at Hampstead and Highgate. The Fleet was 
malodorous from the earliest times, for defilement began as 
soon as the town extended along its course ; our forefathers 
had deplorable ideas of the uses of running water. Yet in 
years that have gone this must have been a picturesque feature 
of the western suburb, threading a way below the city wall. 

It was the Fleet River only for the last half mile or so, 
the navigable portion before entering the Thames. Beyond, 
a pleasant country stream, tumbling down amid woods and 
meadows to the north — the fall was 380 feet in six miles — it 
was known as the Hole-bourne, and anciently, says Stow (who 
is no little confused) as the " River of Wells," from the springs 
which swelled the small torrent. If not in use, at least in 
name, many of these survive, and they indicate the course 
followed : Clerkenwell, Skinnerswell, Bagnigge Wells, Fogswell, 
and Loderswell, until, as the channel wound about, with a 
broad fork at Kentish Town, the sources in the northern 
heights of Caen Wood were reached. Over the river near its 
mouth a bridge was thrown, and over the bridge ran a street. 

This last was " the street of Fletebrigge," afterwards Fleet 
Street, which came late into the life of the metropolis. 

Beyond the wall on the hill, a grey line stretching from 
Newgate to the Thames, Roman London had passed away. 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 3 

The wall was its visible monument. Later generations repaired 
and built upon it ; but the line of the Roman wall remained 
through the Middle Ages (placed in a state of military defence 
in 1477), and but partially broken long after the Great Fire of 
London, * with the sole exception that a circuit was made 
south of Ludgate to the Fleet in or after the year 1278, to 
enclose and protect the land whereon the Dominicans, or 
Black Friars, had then newly settled. A fragment or two 
may still be seen above the surface opposite St. Alphage, 
London Wall, in the churchyard of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, 
and below ground, lighted and walled in, a magnificent portion 
is preserved at the new General Post Office. 2 

The dead hand of the Romans fixed the limits of the city 
long after all memory of them had gone : they built the wall. 
That for a portion of this time London was a city of ruins, 
devastated by foes and deserted by the people, had been 
sedulously taught ; in black ashes deep below the street levels 
was seen the work of torch and flame. Now opinion has 
veered to the opposite pole. A new school of London historians 
has arisen, by whom the comparative study of customs and 
fragmentary allusions in sagas and folk-lore have been taken 
to indicate practically continuous occupation, and we are 
asked to regard London as the oldest kingdom in England, 
if there can be a kingdom without a crowned king ; indeed, 
mention is found in one or two places of " the King of London." 
Edmund Ironsides was at his accession king of no more. 

The facts, so far as they can be gathered up, indicate 
that the Roman city of London exercised authority over a 
considerable territorium around. 

Afterwards came invaders from other lands — Saxons and 
Danes. They settled about London, encroaching almost to 
the shadow of its walls. They maintained their tribal customs. 
London, whatever its position of independence or dependence, 
shrank into greater insignificance. A Danish colony became 
established at St. Clement Danes, whereabouts Temple Bar 

1 As late as 1766 the City Commissioners of Sewers applied to Parlia- 
ment for leave to break down the remaining ancient wall ; they said 
it was detrimental to the health of the City by obstructing the free 
passage of air. 

2 This may be inspected by the public on postal application to the 
Secretary, General Post Office. 



4 FLEET STREET 

was afterwards raised. A legend connects Harold Harefoot 
with Hereflete Inn, on the present site of Chancery Lane, but is 
too vague to be of historical value. We hear of these foreigners 
holding London itself only at a comparatively late date. At 
some time unknown the walled city of London acknowledged 
its jurisdiction to be confined within the area bounded by the 
present Liberties. 

Into the many debatable questions to which these matters 
give rise there is no present need to enter. The one out- 
standing fact wherein the Liberty is concerned is that no 
satisfactory evidence is forthcoming that the inhabited city, 
self-governed and self-contained, overran its western wall 
before Norman times, or that Fleet Street itself, the City 
highway, came into existence before the twelfth century had 
drawn to a close. 

Fabyan, the mediaeval chronicler, writing of the fire which 
destroyed the city in the reign of Ethelred (981 A. D.), it is true 
gives an entirely unexpected presentation of London at that 
era. " Ye shall understande (says he) that this daye the 
cytie of London had most housynge and buyldinge from 
Ludgate towards Westmynstre, and lytell or none wher the 
chief or hart of the citie is now, except in dyvers places were 
housyng, but they stod without order." This has been very 
frequently quoted. Fabyan was not a contemporary, but a 
worthy alderman of Farringdon Without, who wrote late in 
the fifteenth century. His annals start from the fabulous 
years of King Brut. 

No doubt in assigning so late a date for Fleet Street I am 
in conflict with many authorities. It might assist if we knew 
the time at which Ludgate was made in the City wall, but that, 
unfortunately, it is impossible to determine. There used to be 
less hesitation. The reconstructors of Roman London drew 
Ludgate in the wall with firm, strong strokes, and Roman 
Fleet Street as its approach. Nowadays the best authorities 
are content, where suggesting it, to do so in broken lines, 
indicating doubts, for Roman Ludgate has not been found, 
and even the direction taken by the wall down to the Thames 
bank is in dispute. I am frankly heterodox : there are no 
burials across the Fleet to give the line of a Roman highway : 
I have not been persuaded what military purpose Lud Gate 
would then have served, with the deep valley of the Fleet 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 5 

immediately below, and an undrained marsh : but it is right 
to say that students of Roman London, whose opinions deserve 
more respect than my own, accept this opening in the 
western wall. It does not greatly matter. Newgate had 
been three times built, and in Ludgate we certainly have not a 
Roman name. 

The story of its creation by King Lud, sixty-six years 
before the birth of Christ, only provokes an incredulous smile, 
the wall itself being four centuries later. The story must have 
been very real to our forefathers for a good many generations, 
for statues of the mythical king and of his sons Androgeus 
and Theomantus — in Roman dress, too ! — adorned the gate 
until the day of its destruction in the eighteenth century. 
Spenser has lent the glamour of his verse to the legend — 

Even thrise eleven descents the crowne retaynd 
Till aged Hely by dew heritage it gaynd. 

He had two sonnes, whose eldest, called Lud, 
Left of his life most famous memory, 
And endlesse moniments of his great good ; 
The ruin'd wals he did reaedifye 
Of Troynovant, 1 'gainst force of enimy. 
And built that gate which of his name is hight, 
By which he lyes entombed solemnly. 

Lud, says that excellent chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
descended through Brutus, a descendant of ^Eneas the son of 
Venus. " He became famous for the building of cities, and 
especially for rebuilding the walls of London (Trino van turn), 
which he also surrounded with innumerable towers. He 
likewise commanded the citizens to build houses in it, so that 
no city in all foreign countries to a great distance around 
could show more beautiful palaces. He was withal a warlike 
man, and very magnificent in his feasts and entertainments, 
and though he had many other cities yet he loved this above 
them all, and resided in it for the greater part of the whole 
year ; for which reason it was called Kaerlud, and after that, 
by corruption of the name, Kaerlondon." 

A pretty fancy, but circumstances compel the sober historian 

1 New Troy, the name given to the London of fable. The lines are 
from The Faerie Queene, Book II, canto 10, v. 46. 



6 FLEET STREET 

to transfix King Lud with his pen ; there was no King Lud, 
and any derivations from his name are erroneous. * 

Ludgate is not the earliest of the City gates, but with much 
probability stands among the latest. The western entrance 
of the walled city was for many centuries at Newgate, the 
Fleet being crossed at Holborn Hill, and the site of the Roman 
gate in the wall, somewhat to the south of the later Newgate, 
was ascertained with great accuracy when Dance's gruesome 
prison was pulled down in 1903, and deep excavations made 
for the existing buildings of the Central Criminal Court. In 
the Roman masonry, buried and preserved by the rise of the 
town's level in succeeding generations, were discovered the 
foundations of the ancient gate. 

It being contrary to Roman law to bury the dead within a 
fortified city, a few remains of the period west of the wall 
were to be expected. They have been found between the wall 
and the Fleet River bank, and one only I will mention here. 
On Ludgate Hill, while digging the foundations for St. Martin's 
Church, below the debris caused by the Great Fire of London, 
Wren came upon a Roman sepulchral stone bearing the figure 
of a soldier, one hand grasping a sword. The inscription 
is interesting. Translated it reads : " To the Departed Spirits. 
To Vivius Marcianus, soldier of the Second Augustan Legion, 
Januaria Martina, his most dutiful wife, raised this memorial." 
This is now among the Arundel Marbles at Oxford. 

The Fleet mud has yielded up many fragmentary articles, 
Roman and other, that had fallen or been cast into the stream ; 
but of Roman relics there is nothing substantial along the line 
of Fleet Street down to the Fleet bank. 2 

Life there certainly was on this very spot long before the 
historic ages — the life of creatures remote and uncouth, such 

1 I find the following note pencilled in my copy of Professor 
Lethaby's London Before the Conquest, but cannot say by whom written : 
" Ludd was the god of the Sea and Nudd of the Night. Nursemaids 
still say to a sleepy child that it is ' going to the Land of Nod,' i.e., 
into the realm of the Night king. Nudd, as personified by the 
setting sun, was worshipped on Nod's hill, Wandsworth, and Ludd at 
Laddghat = a water slope or landing place." 

2 The exhaustive list of Roman antiquities in the Victoria History 
of London, vol. 1, mentions only a vase from the Temple, a clay lamp 
from Clifford's Inn, and some fragments of pottery discovered in 1843 
at the south end of Shoe Lane. 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 7 

as the woolly rhinoceros, the mammoth, and the reindeer, 
whose bones were dug out of what had been the Thames bed 
during deep excavations in 1903 at the printing offices of 
Lloyd's Newspaper in Salisbury Square. 1 

There remains for mention the Roman bath beyond St. 
Clement Danes, a relic that should be greatly treasured, but 
known, one fears, to very few Londoners. It is on the left- 
hand side of Strand Lane, a narrow court leading to the Thames, 
between the two churches isolated amid the traffic in mid- 
Strand. A spring of beautifully clear, cool water still flows 
into the basin. All that survives is a portion of what was 
evidently a large bath, probably attached to the residence of 
some powerful noble, who chose this pleasant spot overlooking 
the broad river for a retreat in days when the Roman dominion 
made rural life secure. 

If a suggestion made by Mr. C. Roach Smith may be accepted, 
Roman gaiety disported itself where afterwards stood the 
Fleet Prison, of so many sad memories, close to Ludgate Hill. 
The large level space occupied by that notorious gaol, and 
now partly covered by the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, 
has on three sides ground sharply rising to the Old Bailey. 
In its contour he believed that he recognised the formation 
of a Roman amphitheatre, the bank having been cut into, 
that seats for spectators might be extended along the artificial 
slope, and here took place those gladiatorial displays and 
bloody combats in which our earliest conquerors delighted. 2 
Many Roman theatres in France and elsewhere — Treves is a 
notable example — are built into a hill, as the rising ground 
gave facilities for easy construction. The theory, however, 
is more ingenious than convincing. 

No trace of Danish ascendancy exists in this outer space 
of western London except in the name given to the parish 
and Church of St. Clement Danes, and that lies beyond the 
Liberty. Nor has the almost remorseless excavation carried out 



1 These prehistoric remains of Fleet Street were presented by Mr. 
Frank Lloyd to the British Museum, South Kensington, where they 
are exhibited. 

2 Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc, i, 33. Sir Laurence Gomme 
(The Governance of London, p. 93) has suggested the old Bear Garden 
at Southwark, where a few years ago some gladiators' tridents were 
excavated, as the site of a Roman amphitheatre. 



8 FLEET STREET 

brought to light relics of Anglo-Saxon occupation. The 
national collections at the British Museum contain a viking 
sword recovered from the Thames off the Temple ; a viking 
sword of another type, said to have been found about 1846 
in the tomb of an Earl of Pembroke (early thirteenth century) 
in the Temple Church, but with much more probability, as its 
condition testifies, also taken from the Thames ; the handle 
of a State sword, apparently of ninth-century craftsmanship, 
silver and partly gilt and engraved — a gorgeous thing — buried 
and recovered when digging deep in Fetter Lane. x Best of 
all, between western Fleet Street and the Thames there was 
made the richest find of Anglo-Saxon coins ever chanced 
upon, probably deposited about 841 a.d. or 842 a.d. The 
hoard contained no fewer than 241 coins ; three types of 
iEthelstan I of East Anglia hitherto unknown, rare coins of 
Eadbert II of Kent, no fewer than nine specimens of Baldred's 
money, others of ^Ethelwulf, Cuthred, and Offa, King of 
Mercia 2 — things to set the heart of a numismatist beating fast. 

None of these indicates residence ; but the hoard of coins 
and sword-hilt suggest rather a place of burial sufficiently 
remote from the city to have rendered disturbance unlikely. 

Whatever of Saxon London outlived the Norman Conquest 
was destroyed in the fire that consumed the city in 1135, the 
first year of King Stephen's reign. It is recorded in the City's 
Liber Albus that the fire burnt from London Bridge to St. 
Clement Danes ; and this, if not merely a phrase intended 
to convey an impression of the completeness of the catastrophe, 
suggests the belief at the time the book was compiled in 
1419, that a continuous line of buildings had extended thus 
early beyond the wall. I have set out reasons in the pages 
following for doubting that such was the case. Our first 
chroniclers were desperately anxious to endow London with at 
least as great antiquity and importance as Imperial Rome, 
and around its origin a wealth of legend has grown. There is, 
however, much likelihood that a Saxon name has been preserved 
in Ludgate. It has been given many derivations. 

King Lud may at once be ruled out. 

1 These are figured in illustration of Mr. R. A. Smith's article on 
Anglo-Saxon remains in the Victoria History of London, vol. 1. 

2 R. A. Smith, as above. The hoard is described by H. A. Grueber, 
Numismatic Chronicle, 3rd Ser. xiv. 29. 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 9 

Dr. Edwin Freshfield supposed the " Lud " to be derived 
from lode, a cut or drain into a larger stream : the little Fleet 
River flowing into the Thames. 

The Rev. W. J. Loftie and others have claimed the word as 
Anglo-Saxon, properly hlidgedt or hlydgeat, denoting a postern 
which separated the city from the fields beyond. l 

The last is the origin of Ludgate now generally accepted. 

To avoid misconception, it may be well to place emphasis 
on the fact that a considerable tract of land lay between 
the western wall of the city and this tributary stream. Its 
importance in the first development of London beyond the 
wall I come to later. Ludgate did not stand at Ludgate Circus. 
A people skilled in military science, as were the Romans, 
might have chosen from many alternatives in aligning their 
wall, but would never have placed it at the bottom of the hill. 
It ran along the crest, directly south from Newgate to the 
Thames, crossing Ludgate Hill so as just to enclose the site of 
Wren's St. Martin's Church, and leaving the whole length of 
the Old Bailey and all below it without the wall, on the falling 
ground. Fleet Street as now known, with the adjacent lands, 
was doubly isolated from the city, first by the wall, then by 
the stream. 

A date for historic Ludgate, as has been said, cannot be 
assigned. If one may hazard a conjecture — doubtless a foolish 
thing to do — it may possibly have been in the time of Alfred, 
who, after his conquest of the Danes in 866 A.D., " restored 
London " — that is to say, restored its walls and military 
defences. 2 If Ludgate be hlydgeat, a Saxon postern, the first 
gate was probably a narrow, well-guarded exit from the 
walled city, which gave access to the harborage for boats 
afforded by the Fleet River. The larger Lud Gate and the 
bridging of the Fleet may well have followed three centuries or 
more later. Two twelfth century references seem to point 
to this all-important bridge, but unfortunately neither is 
conclusive. 

King Richard the First in 1197 granted to certain persons 



1 Bosworth {Compendius Anglo-Saxon and English Dictionary) 
gives the form ludgeat, a postern gate, which is still nearer. 

2 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (gesette Lundun burg). The reading of 
this passage is disputed. 



10 FLEET STREET 

the custody of his gaol of Fleet Bridge (Gaiolce de Ponte de 
Fliete.) x Earlier King Henry the Second, some time before 
1162, made a grant to the Knights Templars of a messuage 
by Fleet Bridge. 2 It has been pointed out that this might 
apply to Holborn Bridge, which was, in fact, nearer to the 
Templars when, in Henry the Second's reign, they were settled 
in the Old Temple off Chancery Lane, or it might apply to the 
Fleet Street bridge. 

I think there is reason to conjecture that the first Fleet 
Bridge was made for the King's prison, and not for the City 
street. Early in the reign of Edward the Second the upkeep 
of the bridge — or of a bridge — was a joint charge of the King 
and the City. A jury of thirteen was sworn in 1307 to hold 
an inquisition to decide who should repair the broken pavement 
of Fleet Bridge. " They say on oath that the Warden of 
Fleet prison will repair and construct the woodwork of the 
bridge, and the Sheriffs of London will pave the bridge." 3 
The matter is, however, entangled by the fact that in the 
fourteenth century there was both a bridge carrying the street, 
and a second bridge against the Fleet Prison ; the latter is 
clearly referred to in a close writ of Edward the Third to the 
Mayor and Sheriffs, bidding them erect a support for the 
King's bridge over Flete ditch towards " Secolelane " for 
the use of the public, as in duty bound. 4 

Some writers have assumed a greater antiquity for Fleet 
Street than I am able to discover because it lay along the 
natural highway to Westminster. 

The great ecclesiastical parishes of St. Margaret's, West- 
minster, and St. Dunstan's, Stepney, stretched up to London 

1 Mag. Rot. 9th Richard I, Rot. 2a., Lond. and Midd. 

2 The grant is printed in Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, Ed. 
1846, vi, 818. Miss Reddan has shown (Victoria History of London, i, 
485) that the chancellor's presence as one of the witnesses proves that 
it was made before 1162. 

3 Letter Book C, Cal. p. 240. The Letter Books are at Guildhall, 
and references here given are to Dr. Sharpe's calendars. 

4 The writ bears date the 8th Aug., 1356. Two days later the 
inquisition was held, and returned " that the Commonalty of the City 
ought to make a support for the King's bridge over the said ditch, 
namely, towards Secollane," and that the King ought to make the 
bridge and support towards Fletebrigge, and that there was a public 
way over the bridge. The King sent back his writ, insisting upon 
compliance under penalty of £10. (Letter Book G., Cal., p. 65.) 






WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 11 

on the west and east. King Edgar's charter (for what it is 
worth) endowing Westminster Abbey with the manor of St. 
Margaret's contains no reference to either of the Fleet Street 
parishes of St. Dunstan's or St. Bride's. Probably they did 
not exist — in the case of St. Dunstan's that seems certain, 
for Dunstan, Edgar's saintly statesman-priest, was himself 
alive. The document is attributed by Kemble to the year 
971 a.d. x But the charter does mention St. Andrew's, Hol- 
born ; an indication of a church and some kind of occupancy 
or settlement effected nearer the ford or bridge over the Fleet 
and the ancient entrance to the city at Newgate. The eastern 
boundary of the manor, which was at the Fleet, is not mentioned 
under that name, but as " London Fen." 

The term admirably describes the marsh which spread 
along the Thames bank and the course of the Fleet to Holborn. 
Its extent, however, may be easily exaggerated. 

I cannot follow the late Rev. E. C. Hawkins, for so many 
years the greatly beloved Vicar of St. Bride's, where in his 
little monograph on the parish he says, " a great swamp 
extended down to the river from the Temple Bar to Lud Gate, 
as far north as Holborn Viaduct." 2 That surely appeals 
rather to the geological than the historical sense. St. Bride's 
Church, says Mr. Hawkins, dedicated to a Danish saint and near 
by St. Clement Danes, " cannot be ascribed to the period of 
Danish ascendancy, as the land it stands on was then under 
water." This last sentence contains two statements, both of 
which may be challenged. The dedication to a Danish saint, 
if correct (and that is questionable), would make the long 
reign of Canute (died 1035) probable, as it is unlikely that the 
church would be so dedicated at a later date. As for the land 
being submerged, Mr. Hawkins takes no account of the fact 
that on lower ground still nearer the Thames a fortification of 
some sort existed at Bridewell before the Norman Conquest. 

Nor to my mind does Mr. Loftie carry conviction. He 
plots the beginnings of Fleet Street thus : — Before the twelfth 

1 Codex Diplomaticus. The extant charter is dated 951 a.d., and 
has other anachronisms besides a date before that at which Edgar 
ascended the throne. It has been thought by some to be a copy, 
but is generally believed to be a monkish forgery, though the document 
is a very early one, and as such possesses some value. 

3 " The Church and Parish of Saint Bride, Fleet Street," p. 1. 



12 FLEET STREET 

century the fen began to dry up. A piece of foreshore extend- 
ing from the river half-way up the slope towards what is now 
Temple Bar began to appear. The City took possession of it, 
opened the " Lud Gate," and eventually made a bridge to 
reach it. The Abbot of Westminster naturally objected. 
A compromise left the Abbot the advowson of the new church 
of St. Bride's, but gave up the new colony otherwise to the 
City. * I do not know on what basis this structure rests. 
It is likely that the City held authority over the terrain long 
before this time, it being ground from which the wall would 
have been accessible or liable to hostile attack. 

Let us glance (with a translation) into the Domesday Book. 
The ancient volume — one of the two — lies open in its glass 
case in the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane, for anyone 
to see merely at the trouble of writing his name, and in conse- 
quence no Londoner knows it. Curious one day, I made a 
census of some thirty members of my own profession whose 
work brought them daily within one hundred yards of Chancery 
Lane, and found that no one of them had ever seen this greatest 
of our historical documents. Visitors to the Public Record 
Museum (admission free) average about four a day, of whom 
in summer three are Americans. 

Unluckily for its historians, London is not included in the 
Domesday survey. This does, however, give the suburbs in 
the shire ; and therein the manor of St. Margaret's, West- 
minster, which extended to the Fleet River and the Thames, 
is described as containing thirteen hides and a half of land. 
It had cottagers and cattle, hogs, meadow and woodland. 
But the wide demesne, which stretched to Kensington on the 
west and Kilburn on the north, is returned as having only 
" twenty-five houses of the Abbot's knights and of other men, 
who render eight shillings yearly." That does not suggest that 
Fleet Street had been built by the end of the eleventh century. 

Bainiard, says the Domesday Book, held three hides of the 
Abbot. If this be the Norman baron who built Baynard's 
Castle within the wall, it is probable that in him is found the 
first owner of Fleet Street. His three hides — about 225 acres — 
would presumably be the land nearest his castle, extending 
across the Fleet. The identification would be closer if any 



1 Rev. W. J. Loftie, History of London, ii, 70. 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 13 

further mention of Baynard in connection with the street 
were discoverable, but there is none. 

Looking at all the scanty material available, I am disposed 
to think that the idea that the birth of Fleet Street is to be 
found in the upraising of the Thames marsh and mud is 
altogether illusory. The street is much later. Allowing for 
superficial deposits, the levels indicate that, except about 
Ludgate Circus, the marsh can have had little effect on the 
street, the line of which is well above it. The City, in exer- 
cising its authority beyond the walls to Temple Bar, only 
took the obvious course of following, not changes on the 
land surface, but the settlement of the citizens ; and it is, 
perhaps, not without significance that quite early in the 
history of the suburb an established trade, that of the cappers, 
or cap-makers, is already found settled in Fleet Street. 

Outside the wall of London was the church of St. Andrew's, 
Holborn, in King Edgar's day ; " the old stoccene of St. 
Andrew's Church " — old in that day ! — is one of the boundaries 
given by his reputed charter already referred to. There was 
also a very early street, the importance of which cannot be 
overlooked. Shoe Lane is as old as Fleet Street itself, perhaps 
much older. Passing at the foot of the church wall, it ran 
down to Bridewell, forming the route of communication 
between the fortification established there in Anglo-Saxon 
times and the entrance to the walled city at Newgate. Shoe 
Lane still emerges by Holborn Hill close to the spot where either 
a ford or bridge crossed the Fleet River, and though much 
altered midway by the cutting out of St. Bride Street, at 
its Fleet Street end retains its mediaeval narrowness — for the 
width between the kerbs cannot be more than seven feet, and 
the attenuated footway is sufficiently described by Euclid's 
definition of a line, " length without breadth." 

Shoe Lane is mentioned as " Vicus de Solande " in the time 
of King John. l The name may be traced through Scholond, 
or Scholonde, to Scholane in the thirteenth century. 2 Near 
by was the Show-well — which perhaps explains the origin — a 
spring of water that was specially protected when the 
Dominican Friars, by successive gifts or purchases of land, 

1 Cotton MS. Faust, B. II, f 83 vo. 

2 Sharpe, Husting Wills, i, 12. 



14 FLEET STREET 

extended their first London settlement between Holborn and 
Shoe Lane. * 

Farther south than St. Andrew's, but still on the high ground, 
the Knights Templars were settled opposite Lincoln's Inn about 
1128. The origin of St. Clement Danes is lost in antiquity ; 
but a church and, with so much certainty as can be expected 
in these matters, a settlement also, were there before the 
Norman Conquest. 2 Bearing in mind that the western high- 
way into London was by the line of Holborn, entering the City 
at Newgate, and this was the disposition of the dwellings 
towards the Thames, the conclusion seems to be irresistible 
that some subsidiary means of communication with the walled 
city was necessary. 

I conceive that it was found in a rural path, or common way, 
of very early date, which ran above the shelving river bank 
long before the erection of houses first gives us any title to call 
it Fleet Street. The way communicated with St. Clement 
Danes. Then, with a branch northward at the ancient Via de 
Aldwych, it may have followed the line of the Strand south of 
what afterwards became the convent garden of Westminster — 
the present Covent Garden — and so approached the Abbey. 
The land between the path and the Thames has no early 
history. It is not known by what means, or from whom, the 
Knights Templars acquired their Thames-side estate late in 
the twelfth century. 

In order to solve the riddle of this western approach, let us 
go east. There is surviving to-day in the East End of London 
what I imagine the common way hereabouts to have been 
before the houses came. Whitechapel High Street is so broad 
and capacious that, with all its tide of traffic, an open hay and 
straw market is still held each week down its centre, the carts 
congregating together as has been the custom from time 
immemorial. The common way itself can never have been 
one-fifth of this width, but there were large wastes, or pastur- 
age, on each side, and these wastes remained unappropriated, 
and in course of time were thrown into the road. The name 

1 Reliquary, xvii, 36 et seq. 

2 William the First's charter of 1067 to Westminster Abbey charges 
Hamo, his steward, with having unjustly seized the church of St. 
Clement Danes, which the Conqueror had himself caused to be restored. 
See Sir Henry Ellis, Domesday Book, ii, 143. 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 15 

itself comes down in Mile End Waste, which only in 1910 
was converted by the Stepney Borough Council into a public 
garden. 

In the case of Fleet Street, however, the land was seized 
upon, and in consequence there is no magnificent approach 
to the City from the west, as from the east. I think there is 
reason, from the manner in which the suburb developed, to 
fear that the churchmen were the original despoilers of the side 
wastes. With the first peculations, or grants, whichever they 
were, the opportunity of a grand western boulevard near the 
river disappeared for ever. The circumstances widely differed 
at the two ends of the town. In the east was open country 
beyond Aldgate, with only St. Katherine's Hospital, by the 
waterside, to break the view. There were no large foundations 
like Bride well, the Temple, and afterwards the convent of 
the Carmelite Friars, to afford protection and at the same 
time give an incentive to residents to settle outside the walls. 

This comparison must not be pushed too far, for the road 
through Ludgate via Fleet Street and beyond was not a 
great highway into London, as was the eastern road. The 
disposition of those great houses mentioned does, however, 
afford some evidence in support of the view here put forward 
of the origin of the street. Note first the Temple, which 
to-day has two gates on the street. In 1337 William de 
Langeford, chief servitor of the Knights Hospitallers, who 
then held possession under the Crown, had eight shops, seven 
in Fleet Street and one outside Temple Bar. The old gate 
of the Temple was then, not upon, but " towards the King's 
highway." * The Fleet Street frontage has never formed 
part of the Temple precinct. The omission, no doubt, is 
keenly regretted by the Templars' successors, the lawyers. 

Bridewell does not extend into Fleet Street, nor has it ever 
done so. Its enlargement to the line of Bride Lane dated 
only from King Henry the Eighth. The Bishop of St. David's 
had the frontage there for his town hostel at an early date. 
Note, again, that the Fleet Street frontage formed no part 



1 Close Roll, 11th Edward the Third. The texts of the inquisitions 
of 1336 and 1337, with other documents of title of the Temple, are 
printed by Mr. Arthur Ingpen, K.C., in his edition of Master Worsley's 
Book, 1910. 



16 FLEET STREET 

of the original settlement at Whitefriars of the Carmelites. 
The Boar's Head and the Bolt-in-Tun were grants to the friars 
in the fifteenth century. 

It would seem that the earliest settlements hereabouts 
stood back from the track towards the Thames, which was the 
real highway of London's communication, and only as the 
houses of the town crept up to them, built first upon only 
one side, was the rural path, converted into Fleet Bridge 
Street, afterwards Fleet Street. In like manner the sites of 
Burleigh House and the earlier buildings first erected on the 
north side of the Strand were probably grants of the waste 
taken from the sides of the common way when a regular road 
began to be formed along the Strand about 1350. 1 

Fleet Street, the City highway as known to-day, is then 
thirteenth century, contemporaneous with its dawn, when the 
Knights Templars had settled down upon the wide estate of 
which they had become possessed on the Thames bank. 

London's traffic now roars along the quiet rural path where, 
so many centuries ago, the grass grew undisturbed and the 
wild flowers bloomed and perished — a curious, far-off vista 
it seems. Let us leave it for a moment to take note of various 
signs of activity on the eastern bank of the Fleet, foretelling 
the outgrowth of the city beyond the wall at Ludgate. 

The Normans had arrived. Montfichet's Tower stood either 
upon or just within London wall, built by a knight who came 
over with the Conqueror, and bearing his name, before 
Gundulf, a monk of Bee, had begun the construction of the 
formidable White Tower that ever since has guarded the river 
approach. Baynard's Castle was just beyond — not the 
imposing fortress of Shakespeare's plays, wherein Richard the 
Third accepted the English Crown, but a predecessor. To- 
gether they must have given an appearance of defensive 
strength to this western extremity of the city. 

Over Ludgate, the great cathedral dedicated to St. Paul 
began slowly to rise, though it was not completed and the 
masons withdrawn until a century and a half later, leaving the 

1 There were houses in " a street called the Straunde," by Thames 
side, without the walls of London, as early as 1246 (Charter Rolls, 
30th Henry III, m 9). 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 17 

steeple — one of the world's wonders throughout the mediaeval 
ages — towering into the skies no less than 124 feet higher than 
the present golden cross. 

The King's prison of the Fleet was placed outside the wall 
at a very early date. In those rude times from a palace to a 
prison was for many but a short step, and the custody of both 
was, in this instance, vested in the same person, who held also 
the manor of Leveland, in Kent. King Richard the First, 
in the ninth year of his reign, confirmed the grant to Nathaniel 
de Leveland and his son Robert of the custody of the King's 
Houses at Westminster, with the keeping of his gaol of Fleet 
Bridge, " which had been their inheritance ever since the 
Conquest of England" 1 — an indication of the earliest date 
we have for this building, which as a State prison and a recep- 
tacle of the victims of the Star Chamber, and afterwards a place 
of immurement for debtors, had such a long and sad history. 
Probably it was a rude stone structure, wearing the appearance 
of a castle rather than a gaol. In Edward the Third's reign 
it was surrounded by a moat or fosse, " for the safety of the said 
prison lately made." 2 

By the foot of the prison the Fleet River flowed down to the 
Thames. London's " silent highway " was then, and for many 
centuries thereafter, a much more intimate neighbour of 
Fleet Street than it is in its present distant and restricted 
channel. Above the opposite bank of the Fleet, but nearer 
the Thames, was built the first church of St. Bride's. " Of 
olde time a small thing, which now remaineth to be the quire," 
says John Stow, writing in Queen Elizabeth's day. The date 
of its foundation is lost. 

I have no gift in hagiology, and timidly enter into contro- 
versy about the particular St. Bridget, or St. Bride, to whom 
the church is dedicated. But why have a dozen writers 
assumed her to have been a Danish saint ? It has led to 
theories of the antiquity of the parish which rest upon most 
unsubstantial foundations. Mr. Hawkins, among them, gives 
a curiously confused account of this " Danish " lady, who, 
he records, is said to have lived part of her life at Glastonbury, 
and was buried in County Down with St. Patrick and St. 



1 Mag. Rot. 9th Richard I, Rot. 2a., Lond. and Midd. before cited. 

2 Letter Book G. Riley's Memorials, p. 279. 

2 — (2246) 



18 FLEET STREET 

Columbo. Then he goes on to mention the undying fire at her 
tomb, cherished by vestal virgins, which makes it plain that he 
has in mind no Danish lady at all, but a very well-known saint 
indeed — Bridget, Abbess of Kildare in the sixth century. 

The story of the undying fire is so charming that it must be 
told in the words of Giraldus : 

In Kildare of Leinster, which the glorious Bridget made illustrious, 
there are many wonders worthy of mention. Foremost among these is 
the Fire of Bridget, which they call inextinguishable ; not that it cannot 
be extinguished, but because the nuns and holy women so anxiously 
and accurately cherish and nurse the fire, that during so many 
centuries from the time of the Virgin it has ever remained inextin- 
guished, and the ashes have never accumulated, although in so long a 
time so vast a pile of wood hath here been consumed. Whereas in 
the time of Bridget twenty nuns here served the Lord, she herself 
being the twentieth, there have been only nineteen from the time of her 
glorious departure, and they have not added to their number. But 
as each nun in her turn tends the fire for one night, when the twentieth 
night comes, the last virgin, having placed the wood ready, saith, 
" Bridget, tend that fire of thine, for this is thy night." And the fire 
being so left, in the morning they find it inextinguished, and the fuel 
consumed in the usual way. That fire is surrounded by a circular 
hedge of bushes, within which a male does not enter ; and if he should 
presume to enter, as some rash men have attempted, he does not escape 
divine vengeance. 

No one knows the particular St. Bridget to whom the 
unknown founders of St. Bride's Church dedicated the structure 
they had raised, though some of that name, such as St. Bridget 
of Sweden, canonised in 1373, and founder of the Bridgittines, 
are ruled out by date. The fame of the holy Abbess of Kildare 
spread far beyond Ireland ; she held a peculiar place in the 
popular imagination, and I know no adequate reason to 
despoil her of the honour of this dedication. St. Bridget of 
Kildare it was who hung her cloak upon a sunbeam. Dunstan, 
the other patron saint of Fleet Street, performed a miracle 
of like nature, yet more remarkable, for his chasuble hung 
self-suspended in the air, without so much as a sunbeam for a 

Peg- 

A tooth of St. Bridget and the stole, gloves, and comb of 
St. Dunstan were holy relics of the City church of St. 
Margaret, New Fish Street. 

Henry of London, Archbishop of Dublin in the twelfth 
century, quenched the fire, but it was relit, and continued 
burning until the suppression of the monasteries. Austere 



WITHOUT THE WALLS OF LONDON 19 

historians who sneer at the worthy Giraldus for too readily 
accepting the stories of Irish ecclesiastics, admit so much. 
Adjoining the church at Kildare you are shown to-day the 
" fire-house " where St. Bridget is said to have lit the sacred 
flame, but it is a stone cellar. 

There is no authentic mention of St. Bride's Church in Fleet 
Street earlier than a decree of the Archbishop of Canterbury 
in 1222, in which year an ecclesiastical franchise dispute 
between the Abbot of Westminster and the See of London 
was at length settled, and the boundary of the former's juris- 
diction drawn back to the Strand. An interesting survival 
of its ancient dependence on the mother church of St. Mar- 
garet's is to be found in the fact that the presentation to St. 
Bride's, a City church, is still in the gift of the Dean and 
Chapter of Westminster. 

These, leaving Bridewell and the Temple Round to be dealt 
with later, are the few buildings of which record survives 
when the twelfth century came to a close ; all of them 
important, and serving some public purpose. 

I suspect there were others, half-concealed in the shadow 
cast by the wall or down by the Fleet marshes, mere squalid 
huts, shaken by every gale that blew and inundated by floods, 
wherein crouched some miserable creatures sickening from 
disease and want, for the weak and shiftless were always the 
first to be thrust beyond the city. But speculation is useless. 
The outcasts have no chronicler, and only when the friars 
came to labour amongst them is a ray of light thrown upon 
their sufferings. As civic government developed, signs 
multiply of a cleavage between city and suburb. Lepers, 
public women, and keepers of brothels were compelled by the 
mediaeval city to reside outside the walls. There are regula- 
tions by Edward the First for keeping clear the streets and 
Thames-side lanes that do not apply beyond the walls. 

Late in the twelfth century there happened a migration, 
important to Fleet Street's story. The Knights Templars, 
its first residents of whom there are authentic records, moved 
down from their settlement near Holborn to the bank which 
shelved towards the Thames, and in place of vague uncertainty 
historical Fleet Street comes into being. It is in keeping with 
the character that the suburb came to assume, when through- 
out the mediaeval era it was dominated by the possessions 



20 FLEET STREET 

and wealth of the religious Orders, that the first scene we 
are able to picture in it should be that of an ecclesiastical 
procession. Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, when visiting 
London in 1192, lodged at the New Temple, and setting out 
thence to Westminster, had his cross borne erect before him. 
London was not his province, and complaint being made, 
King Richard the First suspended the divine offices and 
bell-ringing in the Temple until such time as his Grace of York 
ceased to violate the rights of Canterbury. * 

1 Gesta Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls Series), ii, 238. 






CHAPTER II 

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 

In the fall of the Templars the Pope and the Church set the first great 
example of the suppression of a religious order to kings, who before 
long bettered the precedent given them. It was a lurid commentary 
on the practical working of the ecclesiastical system that the business 
of condemning an innocent order first brought into England the 
Papal inquisitor and the use of torture. — Professor Tout, Political 
History of England. 

London possesses in the Temple Church the most substantial 
relic in England of the warrior monks, left by the ebb-tide of 
history in the safe keeping — and none is safer — of the lawyers. 
It is of two periods, and at its door is a fragment of a third. 
A vaulted porch gives shelter and entrance, and this is a some- 
what puzzling feature until it is realised that it forms no 
part of the church fabric, but belongs to the ancient cloister. 
That it has survived where so much else has been destroyed 
is due to vandals of the eighteenth century, who built a dwelling 
house over the porch, and placed a shop within it. 

The Round, dedicated in the year 1185 to the honour of 
God and the Virgin, is assuredly one of the most beautiful 
church interiors extant. In this charmed circle is witchery 
that drives away all thoughts of the modern city. You are 
is back in times when the strong grasp of the Normans, so 
impressively symbolised in their architecture, is still felt, but 
is being relaxed. The clustering pillars of Purbeck marble 
and deeply cut mouldings of the pointed arches bespeak a 
period of transition. Not here are those semicircles of crushing 
weight, and plain, heavy pillars and studied absence of orna- 
ment — ferocity in stone, as it has seemed to me — which oppress 
the visitor to the Norman chapel of St. John's within the 
Tower of London, or in a less degree in the splendid fragment 
of St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield. 

The Oblong, or choir, is of somewhat later date — 1240 — and 
in its lighter construction carries farther the idea of the awaken- 
ing of a gladder national life after the Norman oppression. 
It is pure Early English, and the combination of the two 
churches into one harmonious whole is a stroke of genius on 
the part of the unknown architect. Dr. Woods, the Master 

21 



22 FLEET STREET 

of the Temple, has well said, " It might have been a failure 
had there been any violence in contrast. As it is, we feel that 
we are only moving one step forward in the evolution of 
church building. The general effect of the columns and arches 
is the same throughout, and the view from either of the churches 
into the other pleases the eye." 

Lighted by fifteen windows, seven of which are in the 
clerestory, the Temple Round lacks altogether the gloom 
associated with so many of our earliest churches. Looking 
through into the choir, the illumination there is no doubt 
richer, owing to the stained glass which has been freely used. 
Shafts of yellow sunlight fall upon the effigies of warriors 
long since sleeping their last sleep, and the shadows give form 
to the carvings on pillar and capital and groining. It is a 
quiet, restful spot amidst the throbbing City. Along the wall 
of the ambulatory runs a low stone bench, with a shallow 
arcading above. Thereon the visitor of to-day will sit and muse, 
peopling the place, it may be, with the ghosts of Knights 
Templars, to the tread of whose mailed feet these pavements 
rang. 

I am concerned more with the life that has been lived in 
and about Fleet Street for seven centuries than with its monu- 
ments. Many books have been written upon the Temple 
Church, and adequately to describe its glories would be an 
impossible task within the limits of these pages. That has 
been well done by others. A good deal is here, however, to 
assist in picturing the times of the Templars, and that extra- 
ordinary spirit of religious fervour which brought about the 
Crusades. The portrait effigies that lie recumbent upon the 
floor show us the men and the costume of the day, but they 
do not wear the distinctive habit of the Knights Templars. 

Sir Geoffrey de Magnaville, Earl of Essex, lies in effigy ; 
the actual site of interment is unknown. He is the earliest 
identified among this silent company, clad in hauberk and 
surcoat, and helmet and continuous suit of mail. The Earl 
has his legs crossed, 1 but his tempestuous life was not closed 



1 Modern criticism has dealt destructively with the time-honoured 
tradition that the crossed legs indicate a crusader, and the position of 
the crossing the number of crusades in which the warrior commemorated 
had taken part. 






THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 23 

by blows received from the Saracen, for he fell, mortally 
wounded by an arrow, while laying siege to Burwell Castle, 
in Cambridgeshire, in 1141. He died excommunicate, and the 
Templars are said to have swung his body in a lead coffin 
upon a tree in the Old Temple orchard until absolution had 
been obtained from the Pope, and afterwards brought him for 
final burial to their new quarters. 

In all there are nine effigies of knights. The key to identity, 
where established, is derived from armorial bearings carved 
on the shields. In four instances the shields are plain, and the 
figures are labelled merely " A Knight," or " A Knight Cru- 
sader." Of the others represented — with some element of 
uncertainty — the greatest is William Mareschel the Elder, 
Earl of Pembroke (died 1219), guardian of King Henry the 
Third in his boyhood. Dr. Vaughan, at the seven hundredth 
anniversary of the church's consecration, recalled the age, 
and that moving scene at the burial — 

When the round church, glittering in its first whiteness, was the whole 
of the building ; when the east end of the church stood where those 
arches now admit us into the real place of worship ; when armed 
knights, with their white mantles and blood-red crosses, were the con- 
gregation ; and when military priests, exempt from any control but 
that of the Order, were the officiating ministers — days when those 
cross-legged figures on the pavement were living and moving and acting 
men ; or when, to take one particular day as our example — the 
Ascension Day of 1219 — the great Earl of Pembroke, one of the noblest 
characters in history, negotiator of the great Charter itself between the 
King and his barons, and afterwards Protector of England during the 
long minority of that King's son, was carried up at last from his far-off 
castle to be buried in this new church of the New Temple, and King 
Henry the Third stood there, in that Round, and wept, as well a king 
might, over the most loyal of subjects, over the very foremost man 
of his age. He lies there, with two of his five sons at his feet, all by 
turns inheritors of his title, all dying within that one long reign, leaving 
no successor into the next. 

The Earl's sons are William Mareschel the Younger (died 
1231) and Gilbert Mareschel, the last named killed in a tourna- 
ment at Ware in the year 1241, when he fell from his horse, 
the body being conveyed to London for interment in the Temple 
by the side of his father and brother. 

The ninth figure, which lies apart from the rest by the 
south wall of the ambulatory, is proved to be that of a Lord 
de Ros by the three water-bougets (the family bearing) shown 
on the shield, and may safely be inferred to be that Robert 



24 FLEET STREET 

de Ros, surnamed Fursan, whose name occurs among the 
attesting signatures to the Great Charter of Henry the Third, 
and who died in 1227. * 

Less familiar to visitors to the Temple Church is the bishop. 
His effigy needs some search, for the recess in the south wall 
of the Oblong in which he lies is screened from view by the 
stalls. A narrow footway behind them gives opportunity 
for inspection of this excellent piece of mediaeval art, only 
to be seen darkly in the shadow. The bishop almost certainly 
is Sylvester de Everdon, diocesan of Carlisle, and sometime 
Chancellor of England, who was killed in 1255 by a fall from 
his horse. The sculptured figure wears mitre and full ecclesias- 
tical vestments, the left hand holding the crozier, the right 
hand raised in the act of benediction. 

Just a century ago the bishop's stone coffin was opened, 
and within was found his skeleton. A semicircular cavity 
fitted the head. At the feet were the bones of a child, reputed 
to be William Plantagenet, fifth son of King Henry the Third, 
who died in infancy, and was buried in the Temple Church 
in 1256. Fragments of the crozier, and of vestments inter- 
woven with gold tissue, were seen, and the dust was carefully 
sifted in the hope that it contained an episcopal ring, but 
without result. The tomb had been rifled before. The disgust 
of the later antiquaries may be imagined. 

In poverty the famous Order of the Knights Templars was 
founded. Like the friars who afterwards flocked into London, 
the brethren soon forgot the first of their vows. The migration 
from their earliest house, which stood in Chancery Lane by 
Holborn, 2 was significant of the change. Already, before the 



1 George Worley, The Temple Church, p. 37. 

2 The Old Temple, founded about 1128, stood on the site afterwards 
occupied by the town house of the Earls of Southampton, and now 
covered by Southampton Buildings, in Chancery Lane. Ruins survived 
as late as Queen Elizabeth's reign, and foundations uncovered there 
in 1595, and again examined in 1704, showed traces of a church of the 
usual circular shape, which had been adopted by the Templars from 
the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Late as 1883, when 
New Courts Chambers were extended into Southampton Buildings, 
other remains of the Templars were found, including two portions of 
ancient Norman walls of chalk and cement, and a quantity of human 
bones, doubtless those of Knights interred in their first burial ground. 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 25 

twelfth century had closed, the Templars were numbered 
amongst the most powerful bodies in the land, second only to 
King and Church. Privilege and exemption from burdens 
had been showered upon them. Innocent III added enor- 
mously to the status of the Order by becoming himself a 
Templar. Owing direct allegiance to the Pope as their Bishop, 
the Templars claimed complete independence of all other 
episcopal rule. No brother might confess to an outside 
priest without special permission. Though poor as indi- 
viduals, with community of property, a thousand means of 
aggrandisement brought money into their treasury. 

On an extensive plot of land which they acquired by the 
Thames bank, the Knights Templars built an establishment 
worthy of the great prestige of their Order, and reflecting its 
wealth. It was for centuries thereafter called the New Temple, 
in distinction from its predecessor. The area is marked 
by the boundaries of the Inner, Middle, and Outer Temples. 
Apart from the church, little material is left with which to 
reconstruct its magnificence. 

A fragment of the ancient cloister forms the church porch. 
As late as King Charles the Second, however, a considerable 
portion of the cloister extended south towards Inner Temple 
Hall, when, with some brick buildings erected above, it was 
destroyed by fire. 

I am afraid that Inner Temple Hall attracts little attention 
nowadays. Wayfarers are apt to pass it by with a glance and 
a single thought — " Modern ! " — to bestow all their admiration 
upon the glorious old hall of the Middle Temple, an example 
of Elizabethan craftsmanship which stands unrivalled, and is 
hallowed by associations with Shakespeare. But with what 
stood here Great Elizabeth herself is a modernity by com- 
parison. The Inner Temple Hall, until rebuilt and opened in 
1870 by Princess Louise (afterwards Duchess of Argyll) rested 
in part on the ancient foundations, and still preserved the 
stout walls of rubble and Kentish rag-stone built by the 
Templars, which had never been disturbed since the twelfth 
century. * It was their great hall, or refectory, long before the 
lawyers entered. If in all the wide area of the Temple 

1 Report and Observations of the Treasurer [Mr. Joseph Jekyll] on 
the late repairs and alterations of the Inner Temple Hall, 1816, MS. 



26 FLEET STREET 

a spot is looked for whereon its life centred, surely this is 
the one. 

Where now the students of the Inner Temple eat their 
dinners, first step on the path to the Bar and the Woolsack, 
the Knights Templars entertained kings of the realm and 
visiting monarchs, and legates who came to England with the 
illimitable authority of the Pope. x Mathew Paris permits 
a glimpse of one of these great feasts, with their ostentatious 
display, the flambeaux darkly and smokily lighting the hall, 
the guests of honour at the high table, and mail-clad warriors 
around, the serving brethren passing in and out, and the 
walls hung with the shields of the Knights — the last a tradition 
still preserved in the custom by which each succeeding 
Treasurer of the Inn before admission to that office places his 
coat of arms on the wall. 

Adjoining the hall are visible remains of the convent, but 
all concealed from exterior view. A Gothic arch of the same 
style as the oldest part of the Temple Church forms the roof 
of the present buttery. Beyond may be seen a vaulted ceiling 
of rare beauty, the ribs elegantly moulded. Beneath these 
apartments remains of walls of great thickness, an ancient 
window, and pointed arches suggest to the antiquary, imper- 
fectly it must be, some idea of the strength of the great convent 
which gave shelter to hundreds of the brethren of the Temple, 
and was the headquarters of the Order in the English province. 
The Temple houses, when at a later date we first hear of them, 
like those in the street, were distinguished by signs, of which 
Le Oly vaunt, le Barentyne, and le Talbott are early examples. 
The first is no doubt the Elephant, a well-known sign ; the 
Talbot, a dog of the nature of a white bloodhound, was the 
crest of the Talbot family. 

By the covered cloister referred to, the Templars had private 
access to the Church for the performance of their religious 
duties and their secret ceremonies of admitting novices to 
the vows. It led also to the cells of the serving brothers. 



1 I here follow the tradition. It has recently been challenged by 
Mr. A. R. Ingpen, K.C., the learned editor of Master Worsley's Book, 
who thinks it probable that Inner Temple Hall is the successor of the 
" Hall of the Priests," of which there is contemporary mention, and 
that the Knights had a separate hall in line with Inner Temple Hall 
and that of Middle Temple, all vestiges of which have been destroyed. 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 27 

Immediately south of the Round, with a connecting doorway 
and staircase, stood a chapel dedicated to Saint Ann, of which 
only the buried foundations survive (marked by seven large 
flat stones in the pavement) though it remained in use for 
storage of records until 1825. Somewhat later last century, 
near the bottom of Inner Temple Lane, an ancient wall of 
rag-stone, rubble, and chalk was disclosed, x exactly resembling 
the wall of the church, and apparently marking the extreme 
northern limit of the convent. 

The site of other buildings cannot be determined with 
accuracy, but with accommodation for retainers and domestics, 
and stabling for horses, they must have occupied a considerable 
area. Alongside the river extended gardens and a spacious 
ground for the recreation of the brethren. Their burial plot 
was both north and south of the church. A mere fragment 
of this remains. Above the grass are eight stone coffins of 
contemporary date, which were discovered when the chambers 
and vestry that formerly stood here were taken down in 1861, 
and have not been disturbed. All are said to be empty. The 
feet point towards the east. 

Large as it was, the precinct did not comprise the whole of 
the settlement. Across Fleet Street, on the northern side by 
Temple Bar, the Templars possessed a field known as Ficket's 
Croft, which was used for jousts and training and exercising 
their horses. The Law Courts, and what were their gardens, 
stand upon part of the site. On plots of land on either side of 
St. Dunstan's Church they set up armourers' forges. Their 
mills were along the course of the Fleet, near Blackfriars, and 
for turning the water-wheels Henry the Second granted the 
Templars the whole force of the stream. That King is also 
said to have given the church of St. Clement Danes to the 
Knights Templars. 

Vaguely over the centuries comes an impression of the 
great settlement of the military monks on the Thames bank, 
when there can yet have been but few houses to break the 
expanse of the grass-grown fields. It was the antithesis of the 
ordinary monastery, wherein the recluse passed an uneventful 
life down to the grave, the antithesis, indeed, of the Temple 
to-day — for here was barbaric splendour and strenuous 

1 History of the Knights Templars, Addison, 1847. 



28 FLEET STREET 

activity : the continual coming and going of knights bound 
on their way to Palestine, to guard the pilgrims along the 
road to the Holy Sepulchre, and fight the bloody fights 
waged with the infidel ; the daily pursuit of military exercises, 
a constant state of preparation for war. The level fields near 
the waterside where now are the lawyers' trim gardens, have 
often resounded with the shock of the joust. London lay apart 
behind its defensive wall, with neither lot in, nor concern for, 
the religious house outside its gate. 

I emphasise the isolation of the suburb from the guarded 
city because that isolation profoundly affected its character in 
these remote centuries. London found in a strong encircling 
wall its chief military defence. Each gate was held by men-at- 
arms, and on the summit sentries were posted " to look out 
afar," and watch who was approaching the city. After 
curfew the gates were barred and chained, and there was no 
communication till daybreak. There have fortunately been 
preserved the orders given to the warder of Ludgate in the 
year 1312 (6th Edward II) phrased so aptly to recall the 
hard conditions of the times that they read like a passage 
from Froissart — 

To the Warder of the Gate of Ludegate. 

Whereas it is ordained and assented to by the Mayor, Aldermen, and 
all the commonalty of London, that ward of the Gates of the said city 
shall be kept as well by day as by night ; we do command you, on the 
King's behalf, strictly enjoining you, on peril of forfeiting as much as 
you may forfeit, that you, together with two men of the watch, well 
and fittingly armed, be at all hours of the day ready at the gate, within 
or without, down below, to make answer to such persons as shall come 
on great horses, * or with arms, to enter the city ; and that you set a 
guard above the gate, upon the leads thereof, to look out afar, that so 
you may be the better warned when any men-at-arms approach the 
gate. 

And if any do approach in manner aforesaid, then let the chain be 
drawn up without, and answer be given in this manner — 

" Lordlings, the King has given charge to us that no person shall 
enter his city by force of arms, if he have not special warranty from 
him. Wherefore, Sirs, we pray you, that you will not take this 
amiss ; but as for you persons, you who are upon your palfreys, and 
you folks, who come without bringing great horses or arms, you may 
enter, as being peaceful folks." 
And if they will not thereupon turn about, then let the portcullis be 



1 War-horses, or chargers. 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 29 

quickly lifted by those of your people above ; that so those other 
persons may in no way enter. 1 

The City being held secure, the Liberty must needs look 
to its own safe-keeping. There is some reason to believe that, 
at least in the fourteenth century, Temple Bar was not a mere 
temporary obstruction of posts and chains, as commonly 
ascribed. 2 But no attempt was made to defend a suburb 
which was nowhere walled, the larger area being still meadow- 
land. Its residents of whom we first hear were self-protected. 
They were mostly churchmen, who built their hostels about 
Fleet Street, and friars, wielding terrible powers over the future 
life which rendered them safe from molestation in this. The 
Temple itself was walled on three sides, with the flowing river 
at its base. The sanctity which attached to the Templar 
before the days of his decline attached in still greater measure 
to the habitation of his Order in London. 

The greatest nobles in the land sought burial in its holy 
ground. Indeed, King Henry the Third himself expressed a 
wish to be laid there but changed his purpose. The church 
was a place of pilgrimage by reason of its sacred relics, 
numbered among which were two crosses containing the wood 
on which Christ was crucified, some of the Holy Blood, and the 
sword with which the Blessed Thomas of Canterbury was 
killed. 3 Sanctuary granted by the Papacy gave to the Temple 
a peculiar sense of security in a superstitious age, and thus it 
became a storehouse frequently chosen by kings and powerful 
ministers for the deposit of their treasure. The regalia was 
often kept there until its transference to the Chapel of the 
Pyx and the Tower. 

Proud in their independence under the protecting arm of the 
Papacy, the Templars could maintain their trust. When 
Hubert de Burgh, the warrior statesman, fell from favour, his 
wealth was deposited with the Templars. King Henry the 
Third sent for the Master of the Temple, and by threats 
endeavoured to obtain the surrender of the hoard to himself. 
But the Master " answered to the King that money confided 

1 Letter Book D, Memorials, p. 103. 

2 See p. 93, post. 

3 Inventory made by the Sheriff of London, in Public Record Office. 
These articles, unlike other property, were not priced. The full list 
of relics is printed by Baylis, The Temple Church, pp. 141-5. 



30 FLEET STREET 

to them in trust they would deliver to no man without the 
permission of him who entrusted it to be kept in the Temple. 
And the King, since the above-mentioned money had been 
placed under their protection, ventured not to take it by 
force." 1 Hubert himself gave up the treasure. 

I might fill a page with Royal Fleet Street, and lend a 
little lustre to its earliest days by recalling the monarchs who 
have made it a dwelling place. But the impression left 
would be wholly false. It was not in awe and majesty that 
they were seen here, whether the cruel, blustering figure of 
King John in the Temple, swearing by " God's teeth," or 
" God's feet," his favourite oaths, or the gross form of Henry 
the Eighth at Bridewell Palace, sulkily awaiting his divorce 
from Catherine of Aragon. The Temple precinct was a place 
of strength. It was garrisoned by the most powerful military 
Order of the day. Its population comprised some of the finest 
soldiers in Europe. Little wonder in the circumstances 
that Kings of England should at times have found it a con- 
venient residence during troubled days in the thirteenth 
century. 

King John paid the Templars the burdensome honour of 
accepting their shelter and hospitality on several occasions. 
The orders for the concentration of the English Fleet at Ports- 
mouth to resist the formidable French invasion instigated 
by the Pope were dated from the New Temple in London. 
The Convention between the Sovereign and the Count of 
Holland, whereby the latter agreed to assist King John with 
a body of Knights and men-at-arms in case of a landing by 
the French, was published at the same place. Writs of the 
King's lieutenants, sheriffs, and bailiffs were also issued from 
the Temple. So were John's commands for the extirpation of 
heretics in Gascony, addressed to the Seneschal of that 
province. 2 

King John was lodging in the Temple when, in January, 
1215, the barons, who had previously met and bound themselves 
by oath at St. Edmunds, came to him there, " in a very resolute 
manner, clothed in military dresses, and demanded the 
liberties and laws of King Edward, with others for themselves, 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Major a. 

2 Addison, The Knights Templars. 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 31 

the King, and the Church," 1 demands five months later 
granted by Magna Chart a. 

Henry the Third also appears to have dwelt for a time at 
the Temple. When the Oblong of the church was consecrated 
on Ascension Day, 1240, the Sovereign and all his Court, with 
a large proportion of the nobility of the kingdom, were present. 
King Henry was one of the greatest benefactors of the Order, 
and he then made provision for the maintenance of a chantry 
of three chaplains, with an income of £8 a year. They were 
charged to say masses daily for ever in the Temple Church, one 
for the King himself, another for all Christian people, and a 
third for the faithful departed. 

The proclamation of Edward the First as King of England 
took place in the Temple, where the Council of the Realm 
assembled and swore allegiance to the monarch, then returning 
from the Crusades. 

A lively account of the exactions of the Nuncio Martin, when 
lodged at the Temple, has come down to us from Mathew Paris, 
that admirable monk of St. Albans, who, if he hated the 
Templars for the wealth they withdrew to themselves, yet 
by his light loved truth. Martin came armed by the Pope 
with powers such as no Legate before possessed. " He made 
whilst residing in London in the New Temple unheard-of 
extortions of money and valuables. He imperiously intimated 
to abbots and friars that they must send him rich presents, 
desirable palfreys, sumptuous services for the table, and rich 
clothing ; which being done, the same Martin sent back word 
that the things were insufficient, and he commanded the givers 
thereof to forward him better things, on pain of suspension or 
excommunication." 2 

Later violation of their sanctuary by Edward the First and 
his son indicates the dwindling authority of the Order. When 
the former king returned from his victorious campaign in Wales, 
he entered the Temple with armed followers, and in pretence 
that he came to inspect his mother's jewels, broke open coffers 
and carried away £10,000 to Windsor. Edward the Second, 
going there with his favourite, Piers Gaveston, raided 
from the Temple treasury gold and silver and a quantity 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Major a (Rolls Series), ii, 584. 

2 Chronica Major a (Rolls Series), iv, pp. 379, 420. 



32 FLEET STREET 

of jewels and precious stones belonging to the Bishop of 
Chester. 

Spenser has enshrined in a line of his exquisite 
" Prothalamion " the cause of the Templars' downfall — 

those bricky towres 
The which on Themmes brode aged back doe ryde, 
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers, 
There whylome wont the Templar Knights to byde 
Till they decay 'd through pride — 

and pride is the accepted explanation. It but imperfectly 
explains the policy of fear and greed animating the statesman- 
ship of Europe at the opening of the fourteenth century, for 
which the Knights Templars were pursued and crushed. 
Their work was done. The final triumph of the Saracens had 
swept Christianity out of Palestine, and made hopeless the 
task of recovering the Holy City. The Knights lingered on 
as an anachronism, ripe for spoliation in the opinion of Philip 
the Fair, King of France, and Pope Clement V, the creature 
whom he had raised to the Papal throne, and who at his 
bidding established the Pontificate in France, never once 
setting foot in Rome. 

Few signs indicate that the Knights Templars were unpopular 
amongst the English people, though their arrogance and the 
privilege they asserted might have justified hostility. The 
lower clergy were their bitterest denouncers. The Templars 
in the height of their power paid neither tithe to the Church nor 
tenths nor fifteenths to the King. No taxes, national or 
ecclesiastical, were levied upon them. They were freed from 
all feudal suits and services. On bridge and highway they 
passed free of toll ; their tenants, escaping local dues, could 
undersell the burgher in his own market. The Templars 
submitted to no customary court of law, pleading only before 
the King or his chief justiciar. The clergy, whose greed was 
notorious, and for whose extortions heaven and hell alike did 
service, stood helplessly aside while large sums of money 
coveted by them flowed into the Templars' coffers. 

Such was their wealth that when Louis IX (Saint Louis) 
was taken prisoner by the Saracens, almost the whole of his 
ransom of 800,000 bezants — about eight millions sterling at 
present money values — was paid by the Templars. No bishop 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 33 

or priest could excommunicate a Templar. Where interdict 
closed other churches, theirs were exempt. It was charged 
against them by the prelates that, abusing their privilege to 
bury in their churches whom they pleased, they received the 
excommunicate, and gave the heretic Christian rites. In 
addition to the knights, the Order extended its privilege over 
large numbers of associates, serving brethren, and retainers ; 
and tenants of their widespread estates erected the sign of the 
Cross on their houses, thereby claiming exemption from duties 
and services to which others less fortunate were subject. 

Modern standards of indignation are entirely out of place. 
Privilege and exemption were the general order : they were 
the right of every royal officer, of every ecclesiastical lord. 
The degree might be greater or less, and in the case of the 
Templars greater, though there is much evidence to show 
that their position of almost complete independence of all 
authority which papal and royal grants had bestowed was 
more apparent than real. The hardship of being forced into 
the Templars' courts for redress was no greater than that of 
being forced into the lord's court, or the bishop's court. The 
burgher of the town and the men of the hundred felt their 
burdens heavier because the Templars and those under their 
protection escaped taxation. But their grievance was not less 
real against the feudal lord and the abbot. 

The Knights Templars were, with the Jews, the chief bankers 
of Christendom in the thirteenth century, and they cannot 
have escaped some share of the mistrust that always has 
attached to usury. They appear at home as shrewd men of 
business, who managed their estates well, exerting no more 
injustice than was the common lot, and in this country no 
spontaneous movement against them is to be traced. In 
England the suppression of the Order was almost entirely 
due to pressure from without. 

In the autumn of 1307, Edward the Second, who had then 
newly ascended the throne, was urged by Philip the Fair to 
arrest all Templars within his kingdom. This had already 
been done in France, where the Templars were denounced as 
" ravening wolves, a perfidious, idolatrous society, whose 
works and words are sufficient to pollute the earth and infect 
the air." The English King declared that the charges made 
against them were beyond belief. He wrote to Portugal, 

3— (2246) 



34 FLEET STREET 

Castile, Sicily, Aragon, to the Pope himself, stating his confi- 
dence in the faith and good morals of the Order. The protest 
could not save those whose fate had already been decided. 
Warned by Philip and threatened by Clement V, the rapacious 
servant of a cruel and tyrannical master, Edward's weak will 
bent to their purpose, and before the succeeding January had 
expired the Templars throughout his realm had been flung 
into prison and their property taken into the King's hands. 

Five of the serving brethren were confined in Ludgate. Others 
of the London gates held their quota of prisoners, and in the 
fetid gaols horrors were enacted which it is well to pass by, 
while " confessions " were sought, and some sort of case was 
being pieced together to place before the Papal Commission. 

Now comes a difficulty, not easily surmounted. It has 
been suggested that the English Templars dispersed, awakened 
to their peril. The Papal inquisitors made every effort to hunt 
down all fugitives in England, but secured only nine. That 
does not look like wholesale concealment. Buried treasure 
was talked of, but none was ever found. It may be the case 
that the Order, in the days of its decline, had become greatly 
reduced. There is another and not unlikely explanation : 
that the ransom of St. Louis, and Mathew Paris's assertion 
concerning their 9,000 manors in Christendom, have hypnotised 
historians, who have credited the Templars in England with 
greater numbers and possessions than actually were theirs. 
That is the impression left by Addison's standard History of 
the Knights Templars, now that the cold douche of critical 
scientific examination has been thrown upon it. Even so, the 
large part that the Knights Templars filled in English social 
life, the prestige and power they enjoyed, and the influence 
which throughout the thirteenth century they exerted in every 
shire, seem strangely incompatible with the ascertained 
facts at the time of their suppression. 

A careful inventory of the Templars' manors and movable 
property in England was taken by the Commissioners of Ed- 
ward the Second, and these documents, with detailed accounts 
rendered by the Royal keepers of the Temple lands, and much 
else, are preserved in the Public Record Office. I give below 
a few of Professor Clarence Perkins's results of an examination 
of available sources. 1 

1 English Historical Review, vol. xxv. 



THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 35 

The data is not complete, but as accurate a compilation as 
can be made shows that the total annual value of the Templars' 
lands and property in England did not exceed £4,800, and in 
Ireland £411. William de la More, last Master of the English 
Templars, and several other leading brothers were not arrested 
in London. At the New Temple in London, the head-quarters 
of the English Province, there appear to have been, when the 
royal officers entered, only five or six able-bodied Templars. 
The value of the ecclesiastical goods found there amounted 
to £121 5s. 9d., and of all other movables £68 7s. 2d. The 
arms seized comprised three swords and two balisters — and 
one of the latter broken ! A scrutiny of all materials likely 
to be of value indicates that there were only 144 Templars 
in the British Isles. Making liberal allowance for incemplete 
evidence, there do not appear to have been over fifteen or 
twenty Knights among these, and, perhaps, sixteen priests. 
This is the conclusion reached — 

" The great majority of the brethren [at this time] were 
serving brothers or sergeants, common men drawn often from 
the locality of the manors on which they remained. . . . 
Without outside aid it would have been impossible for the 
Templars to have offered effective resistance to the royal will. 
In fact, their numbers seem almost insufficient to manage 
and cultivate their extensive estates and maintain their 
numerous chantries, and they must have been more or less 
dependent on their corrodaries and tenants for the actual 
work/' 

The Order was in its maturity the creation of King and Pope. 
When their support was withdrawn its collapse was complete. 
Looking over the charges brought against the Templars 
v/hen at last the victims were collected for trial in London 
and York, it is impossible to accept them seriously. Many 
tales are obviously the product of over-heated imaginations. 
Immorality was alleged ; it was likely enough among rough 
soldiers whose war service was followed by long spells of 
indolent peace, but it was the immorality of the age. The 
secrecy with which the vows were taken gave rise to all sorts 
of extravagant allegations. The Papal inquisitors were 
gravely informed that the Templars denied the Redeemer, 
asserting " that Christ died, not for our sins, but for His 
own " ; that they were leagued with the infidel ; that they 



36 FLEET STREET 

worshipped a brazen head with two faces, which would answer 
all questions put to it ; a calf ; a cat. A Minorite monk, one 
John de Garlia, repeated with circumstantial detail a story he 
had heard of profane rites exercised on admission to the 
Order, at the Temple in London. 

He told that a servant had secreted himself in the hall where 
a Chapter was held. After the door had been locked by the 
last Templar who entered, and the key brought to the Master, 
the assembled Templars jumped up and went into another 
room. Opening a closet there, they drew from it a cross and 
a black figure with shining eyes, and they placed the cross 
before the Master and the idol upon the cross. Thereupon 
the Master kissed the image, and all the others did the same, 
after which all spat three times upon the cross, save one 
Templar, who refused. He was warned — 

" Take heed, and do what you see the Order do." 

He answered that he would not conform. The brethren 
then threw him into a well in the cloister square before the 
Temple Church, and left him to perish. 

A somewhat similar story was given by another Minorite, 
who had heard that a Templar's little son had peered through 
a chink in the wall, and saw a novitiate slain because he would 
not deny Christ. Afterwards the boy, refusing to become a 
Templar himself, shared the same fate at his father's hands. 
Others had heard that in each general Chapter the Devil 
carried off one of the brethren, who was given over to him. 
Then there were apparitions of the Devil seen in a blaze of 
fire, and tales of secret, black, and midnight orgies, disgraced 
with foul abominations of which the mediaeval mind was 
curiously inventive. 

If gravity of any kind attaches to the charges, it is to that of 
the denial of Christ implied in trampling and spitting upon the 
crucifix. So persistently was this accusation made in different 
countries in which the Templars had established themselves, 
that some writers have been driven to find an explanation 
in the ceremonies of initiation. In their view, the Templars 
assumed that the neophite was always a pagan or Moham- 
medan. Consequently his conversion was typified by a formal act 
of profanity, followed by the renunciation of his supposed original 
creed previous to his reception into the Christian society. l 

1 George Worley, The Temple Church, p. 11. 






THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 37 

An effective answer seems to be contained in the defence 
made by the Knights Templars in London, and crystallised 
in a couple of sentences in the petition of the prisoners at 
Sens : " A vast number of knights had died in prison, and they 
exhorted the inquisitors to interrogate the guards, jailers, 
executioners, and those who saw them in their last moments, 
concerning the declarations and confessions they made at the 
peril of their souls when dying. They maintained that it was 
an extraordinary thing that so many knights of distinguished 
birth and noble blood, members of the most illustrious families 
in Europe, should have remained from an early age up to the 
day of their death members of the Order, and should never in 
days of sickness, or at the hour of death, have revealed any of 
the horrid iniquities and abominations charged against it." 

Happily England was spared the horrors wrought in France 
upon the Templars in the hour of their downfall ; our worst 
inhumanity was but a pale reflection of these. The brethren 
who survived imprisonment were at length absolved, released, 
and reconciled with the Church after undergoing penance 
in the monasteries. There is so much evidence that William 
de la More, last Master of the Knights Templars in England, 
was treated with exceptional indulgence — granted his parole, 
allowed to wear the garb of the Order, and to travel in England 
with attendants — that suspicion is thrown on the story of his 
solitary death in a dungeon of the Tower, refusing to confess 
heresies that did not exist. It is significant that neither in 
England nor in any country beyond the influence of Philip 
the Fair was a single Templar condemned to death. Spain, 
awful as was its later reputation, was more merciful. 

The councils of Tarragona and Aragon, after applying 
torture, pronounced the Order free from heresy. In Germany 
and Portugal the Templars were declared innocent. Only 
in France did knights die at the stake, and last of them Jacques 
de Molay, Grand Master of the Temple, who in March, 1312, 
perished as a " relapsed heretic " over a slow charcoal fire 
lighted on an island in the Seine at the foot of Philip's garden. 
In his lingering agony he is said to have summoned the Pope 
and the King to meet him within a year and a day before the 
Judgment Seat of Almighty God. The summons was obeyed, 
in spirit if not in the letter. A couple of years had not passed 
when Pope and King were dead. 



CHAPTER III 

THE MEDLEVAL SUBURB 

Everywhere within the Houses of the Suburbs, the Citizens have 
Gardens and Orchards planted with Trees, large, beautiful, and one 
joining to another. There are also about London, on the North 
of the Suburbs, choice Fountains of Water, sweet, wholesome and 
clear, streaming forth amid the glistening Pebble-stones. In this 
number, Holy Well, Clerkenwell, and Saint Clement's Well, are of 
most Note, and frequented above the rest, when Scholars and Youths 
of the City take their air abroad in the Summer Evenings. A good 
city when it hath a good Lord. — Fitzstephen's Description of London, 
circa Henry the Second. 

Fleet Street begins with a crime — long, long ago. That 
famous Mayor, Sir Richard Whitington, and his little less 
famous Common Clerk, John Carpenter, found at Guildhall 
in their time a mass of rolls, scattered without order, and from 
these they compiled, in the year 1419, a volume of City laws 
known as the Liber Albus — the City's White Book. It is in 
Latin, written in a neat hand, and to this invaluable document 
I shall have occasion often to recur. Upon the parchment 
pages they copied this record — 

Of the twelfth year of King Henry [III] before named. 

In that year, Gervaise le Cordewaner being Chamberlain, and the 
aforesaid persons being Sheriffs, it happened that one Henry de Buke, 
on the Monday next after the Feast of St. Ethelburga, slew one Le 
Ireis le Tyulour in the street of Fletebrigge with a knife, and then 
fled to the church of Saint Mary in Suthwerke, and, having there 
acknowledged the deed in presence of the said Chamberlain and Sheriffs, 
abjured the realm. 

Henry de Buke committed his crime on the 11th October in 
the year 1228, and fleeing through the narrow streets of the 
City he reached London Bridge, built by King John, and then 
and for centuries after the only means of crossing the Thames 
on foot. The church of St. Mary Overy stood, and still stands, 
at the Surrey end of the bridge, and therein the fugitive took 
sanctuary. The Chamberlain 1 and Sheriffs went over to 
interrogate him. He acknowledged his deed, and took oath 
to abjure the realm. Had he possessed chattels (he was a 
stranger, and had none) he would have surrendered them to the 

1 Early in mediaeval London the Mayor was also the Chamberlain 
and also the Coroner in the city. 

33 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 39 

Mayor as coroner. Nor was he in frank-pledge. Forty days' 
refuge in church the law allowed, then the sanctuary taker 
must proceed on foot to an assigned port, and go aboard a 
ship sailing to a foreign destination. If as he journeyed, 
cross in hand, he moved to right or left of the King's highway, 
it was open to any man to kill the outlaw. 

It was a common incident, this murder on the highway and 
flight to a church for sanctuary, and nothing would have been 
known of it, after seven centuries have passed, but for the fact 
that the Mayor and Sheriffs asserted their jurisdiction in 
South wark ; " out of their own liberties, in contravention of 
the Crown and dignity of his lordship the King," says the 
original writer of the record. This was long a matter in dispute 
between the City and the Crown, the bailiwick not being 
definitely conceded to the former until the first year of Edward 
the Third's reign. The Mayor and Sheriffs had made no 
attachment for this man's death. They were, therefore, 
amerced by the king. * 

Le Ireis le Tyulour probably means the Irishman, the 
tiler — known by his trade. The street of Fletebrigge is Fleet 
Bridge Street. The interest of this record of 1228 is that it is 
the earliest mention of Fleet Street. 

It was not the street as known to-day, but something far 
removed. Its topographical features have undergone great 
change, and every one of the ancient characteristics have been 
swept away. First to restore the street as it ran through the 
mediaeval suburb, it must be borne in mind that Fleet Street 
crossed the Fleet River and extended up to Ludgate and the 
wall, thus including all Ludgate Hill below St. Martin's Church 
and the Old Bailey. The fact seems to have been generally 
overlooked by the historians of Ludgate Hill. Edward the 
First permitted a diversion of the City wall from Ludgate 
so as to enclose the Blackfriars' Priory, but first, by mandamus 
in 1277-8 to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, directed inquiry 
to be made into what damage, if any, would be done, giving 
the line of rebuilding as " from the turret of the said [Ludgate] 
between the houses of the men inhabiting Flete Strete and the 
Archbishop's place aforesaid up to Flete Ditch." 2 Four days 
later the return was made, non ad damnum. 

1 Liber Albus, Riley's translation, p. 76. 

a Patent Roll. 6th Edward I, Cal. ( p. 258. Letter Book A. Cal., p. 222. 



40 FLEET STREET 

Instances might be multiplied. In the year 1335 Thomas 
Edmund, fishmonger, left to Agnes, his wife, a brewhouse 
and shops " in the parish of S. Martin near Ludgate in Flete- 
strete " for life. * St. Martin's parish meets St. Bride's down 
Ludgate Hill on the line of Belle Sauvage Yard. The fact is 
brought out yet more clearly in one of the earliest wills 
enrolled. Michael, son of William de Auverne, in 1274, 
bequeathed to Michael Thovy, his uncle, his " house in Flete- 
strete between Ludgate and Fletebridge ; likewise two shops 
adjacent and appertaining to the said house." 2 Fleet Street 
comprised all the lower part of Ludgate Hill certainly as late 
as 1391. 3 The Rose Tavern, across Fleet Bridge, was in Flete 
Strete in King Henry the Eighth's reign. Accordingly, the 
street at the outset was a little more lengthy, if not more 
important, than it became in after years. 

The Fleet River dominated the locality. At the first 
glimpse that is caught out of the mists of the past, the stream 
bore the appearance of an inland port in miniature. Floats 
and river craft lay moored alongside the bank ; ashore was the 
stir and noise of unloading, with such crude contrivances as 
mechanical ingenuity had then devised, and beyond the bridge 
carrying Fleet Street over the little watercourse, rose the smell 
of reeking tanneries. Water was an essential for the industry, 
and the tanners crowded towards the Fleet, making the slip 
of land lying at the foot of London wall a headquarters for 
the preparation of hides for boots and shoes and the leather 
accoutrements and saddlery then so much in use. The 
tanners outside Ludgate, as they are mentioned in the City's 
Letter Books, joined hands along the stream with the tanners 
outside Newgate. These were the men, and these the trades, 
established hereabouts long before men dreamed of the printing 
press, which was destined to make Fleet Street world-famous. 
The eastern bank rose steeply, forming a low cliff, as may 
be judged to-day by anyone who climbs the hill to Apothecaries' 
Hall, and then imagines New Bridge Street lowered to the 
Thames level ; and was yet more strongly in evidence before 
the railway to Holborn Viaduct station was built, and a long 



1 Husting Wills, i, 406. 

2 ibid., p. 19. 

3 See sign of Le Walssheman sur le Hoope, p. 147, post. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 41 

flight of stone steps called " Breakneck Stairs " led to Green 
Arbour Court, Old Bailey, where Oliver Goldsmith had 
lodgings. Opposite, the bank shelved gradually. 

Fleet Bridge stood high, to enable the small craft of the 
day to pass under. I have called the Fleet River malodorous, 
and so shall often have occasion to recall it. Early in their 
occupation of Whitefriars, the Carmelites found cause to com- 
plain (1290) to the King and Parliament of the putrid exhala- 
tions arising therefrom, which were so powerful as to overcome 
all the incense burnt at their altars during divine service, and 
even occasioned the deaths of many of the brethren. They 
begged that the stench might be immediately removed, lest 
they should all perish. The Bishop of Salisbury in his hostel 
by Salisbury Square, and the Black Friars in their priory, 
whose noses were nearer the pollution, united in the complaint. * 
I fear that the brothers perished, for twenty years later matters 
had not mended. 

Above Fleet Bridge Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, had a 
house in Shoe Lane, built near or upon the Fleet River, where 
the Dominican friars had their first London settlement. This 
noble represented to Edward the First's Parliament, sitting at 
Carlisle in 1307 in consequence of the Scottish wars, that the 
Fleet was no longer navigable. " It was wont to be so full, 
broad, and deep, that ten or twelve ships laden with divers 
wares and merchandise " used to come to Fleet Bridge to dis- 
charge, and some of them as far as Holborn Bridge, but that 
was no longer possible. 

De Lacy said that the watercourse, through filth, inundations 
from the tanyards, and other interferences, especially by the 
erection of a wharf and diversion of the water by the Knights 
Templars for their mills outside Baynard's Castle, was so 
choked that ships could not pass. He petitioned for redress. 
It was ordered : " Let Roger le Brabanzon, the Constable of 
the Tower, the Mayor of London, and the Sheriffs of London, 
take with them some discreet Aldermen, and inquire on oath 
how it used to be and what the waterway was, and let them 
have all obstruction removed, and restore the waterway to 
what it was in olden times." 2 The commission directed that 



1 Rotuli Parliamentorum, 18th Ed. I, i, 61. 

2 Patent Roll 35th Ed. I, Cal., p. 548. 



42 FLEET STREET 

the channel should be cleared, but like so many other attempts 
that followed, this brought about no lasting improvement, 
operations being suspended by the death of the king. 

Fifty years later (1356) an inquisition was held in St. Bride's 
Church, and from its report we get a picture of the Fleet. 
Incidentally it is learnt that the banks of the foss around 
the Fleet Prison were then covered with trees. l The channel 
ought to have been ten feet in breadth, and so full of water 
that a boat laden with one tun of wine might easily float. 
The filth of laystalls and sewers discharging into it quite 
choked the course. No fewer than eleven " necessary houses " 
(" wardrobes " they were very generally called in the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries) had been illegally built over the 
water. a Three tanneries were established close to its 
margin. 

The King's writ directing the inquiry shows the waterway 
to have been in an appalling state. So filthy was the foss 
about the Fleet Prison that there was " cause to fear for the 
abiding there of the persons detained therein by reason of the 
same ; and because that, by reason of the infection of the air, 
and the abominable stench which there prevails, many of 
those there imprisoned are often affected with various 
diseases and grievous maladies, not without serious peril unto 
them." 

Striding across the road up the steep hill was Ludgate, 
showing high and square above the wall and houses. It was 
either repaired or rebuilt in 1215, when the barons in arms 
against King John entered the city at Aldgate, and having 
first assured themselves of the attitude of the citizens, attacked 
the unfortunate Jews and destroyed their dwellings — and also 
searched their coffers to fill their own purses, as John Stow 






1 In prehistoric times the district was thickly afforested. In deep 
excavations in 1873 for the south-east wall of Messrs. Ward and Lock's 
premises off Salisbury Square, the debris of the Great Fire of London 
and two other fires was cut through, and below was a thick layer of 
peat, in which were found, near together, the trunks of several large 
trees lying in one direction towards the Fleet River bed, apparently 
blown down by a south-easterly gale. The navvies' sharp spades cut 
into them like cheese. 

* " Inquisition into the state of the Fosse at the Fleet Prison." 
Letter Book G. Memorials, p. 279. 



^P ^^i 




QUEEN ELIZABETH S STATUE AT ST. DUNSTAN S 
CHURCH 

Removed from the ancient Ludgate 
Drawn by R. Anning Bell 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 43 

says. * Afterwards the barons used the broken wall of the 
Jews' houses to repair the City's walls and gates, Ludgate 
among them. 

Ludgate is mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, 2 writing 
about 1130, but some writers have suggested that as a great 
City gate it was first built by King John's rebellious barons. 
The ancient structure stood until Elizabeth's reign, and was 
pulled down in the year 1586. Stow, who evidently witnessed 
the demolition, records a curious confirmation of the barons' 
handiwork. Buried in the masonry was found a stone taken 
from one of the Jews' houses, bearing an inscription in Hebrew 
characters, which, translated, reads, " The sign (or house) of 
the honourable Rabbi Moses, the son of the Rabbi Isaac." 

Stow also says that Ludgate was repaired and beautified with 
the images of Lud and other kings in 1260. Zealous reformers 
in the reign of King Edward the Sixth judged these figures 
to be idols, and struck off the heads. Queen Mary, however, 
took Lud under her Royal protection, and set up new heads on 
the old bodies. The effigies, perhaps renewed at the rebuilding, 
survived the flame and heat of the Great Fire of London, 
only to be removed with the Elizabethan gate in the eighteenth 
century. 

Left and right the mediaeval wall extended to Newgate and 
the Thames. Below, where the bank fell to the Fleet, was one 
of the oldest bits of settled London beyond the wall. It was 
thickly populated when Fleet Street on its north side from the 
stream to Temple Bar, had then, and for three centuries after- 
wards, but a thin line of houses. All present interest has 
been driven out of these byways by the railway crossing Lud- 
gate Hill, which cuts through the bank. Dead walls and 
arches make the district almost derelict, but a few names 
survive to recall the early associations — Seacoal Lane, Fleet 
Lane, Turnagain Lane. Ship Yard has disappeared, and 



1 Dr. Sharpe has pointed out that Walter de Coventry (Rolls Series, 
No. 58, ii, 220) gives a version of the entry of the Barons into London 
different from that generally accepted. He says they made their way 
into the City by stealth, scaling the walls at a time when most of the 
inhabitants were engaged in divine service, and having once gained a 
footing opened all the City gates one after another, 

* Historic* Regum Britannia, iii, 20. 



44 FLEET STREET 

Limeburners Lane went out of existence so long ago that 
Stow confused it, quite wrongly, with Seacoal Lane. 1 

All these are of nautical origin, and indicate the neighbour- 
hood's dependence on the Fleet harborage, when this bank 
was the place of unloading for the boats that brought pro- 
visions, hides, coal, and lime to serve the needs of the western 
end of the city. 

A quiet turn of humour often enlivens the mediaeval age. 
It finds expression in names. Such must have been in that 
man's mind who first gave the name " Turnagain Lane " to 
the little passage which now abuts on Farringdon Street, but 
originally led down to the Fleet River — and left the 
pedestrian to go back by the way he had come. To-day the 
conditions are reversed ; Farringdon Street, which is still the 
course of the Fleet underground, is open, and the upper end 
of the lane is blocked by the viaduct buildings. It was first 
known as Windagain Lane, 2 and since 1430, if not earlier, by 
the name it now bears. 3 

It is worth while when on Ludgate Hill to turn into Farring- 
don Street, and take the first passage northwards. This is 
Seacoal Lane, a narrow way but little known, leading under 
the dark railway arches and by the rear of Messrs. CasselTs 
vast premises into Fleet Lane, which marks the boundaries 
of the old Fleet Prison, and so to the Old Bailey. The name 
is descriptive, and can be traced in the Pipe Rolls right back 
to 1228. The wharf at its base was used as a landing place 
and storage for seaborne coal from the barges on the Fleet 
River. Mention is made of shiploads of coal imported into 
London in Henry the Third's time. The coal was thus early 
sold in sacks, and measured by the quarter under the inspection 
of meters appointed by the Mayor. 

However, the Londoners do not seem to have taken kindly 
to its use, for under the first Edward there was an unfortunate 
man hanged for burning sea-coal. Perhaps the yellow fog 
was familiar even in those remote days. 



1 John Hereward in 1308 bequeathed to Catherine, his daughter, 
" shops in Secollane and in Lymbarnereslane." Husting Wills, i, 204. 

2 " Wandayesnes Lane." ibid., same will. 

3 " Turnagayne Lane." Cal. Inq. post mortem (Record Commission), 
iv. 126. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 45 

Seacoal Lane has another interest as the site of one of 
the earliest schools of law, St. George's Inn, described by Stow 
as an ancient lodging for students in the City, but in his time 
long ago decayed. This Inn was abandoned at an unknown 
date for New Inn, St. Clement Danes, formerly Our Ladye's 
Inn, which was ultimately attached to the Middle Temple. 

I have spoken of the tanners, the outpourings of whose pits 
was one great source of the pollution of the Fleet. Some of 
these at least are known. There was John de Hormede, who, 
in 1304 had three leaden troughs at his tannery in Seacoal 
Lane. l Forty years later Walter Mosehache was tanning 
skins in Turnagain Lane. Among legacies to his daughter 
when he died in 1349, were " ten pounds of silver and two 
leaden troughs standing in a garden, provided she marry some 
one of my art," and being a careful parent, he made 
other gifts " if she marry well." 2 John de Bristoll's two 
tanneries poisoned the water of the Fleet Prison foss. 3 The 
tanners whose wills appear on the City Husting rolls in the 
fourteenth century had property with rare exceptions, in, or 
near by, one of the three lanes running up from the Fleet 
River to Old Bailey — Seacoal Lane, Limeburners Lane, or 
Turnagain Lane. Each tanner of substance, freeman of the 
City, had his " place and table " at Tanners-seld, in Westchepe, 
and being a freehold, this was customarily left to the wife 
during widowhood, or in perpetuity " should she marry one 
of my art," failing which it was a common bequest to an 
apprentice. 

South of Ludgate the Fleet bank towards the Thames 
presented an aspect very different from the narrow lanes and 
trading wharves that I have been describing. Few religious 
establishments possessed such magnificence as the great priory 
built by the Dominicans, or Black Friars, which occupied the 
whole area from the waterside uphill to the original line of the 
Roman wall. Except in the name borne by the district, and 
the solitary instance of Cloister Court, not a vestige of it 
survives. The signboards now to be read at the street corners, 
such as Playhouse Yard and Printing House Square, preserve 



1 Husting Wills, i, 163. 

» ibid., i, 514. 

» Letter Book G, Cal., p. 50. 



46 FLEET STREET 

memories, not of the Preaching Friars, but of the Blackfriars 
Theatre and of the early printing press. 

The Black Friars arrived in England in the height of the 
remarkable evangelical revival instituted by St. Dominic and 
St. Francis, which disturbed the slumbers of monasticism. 
They were known indifferently as Dominicans from their 
founder, Preaching Friars from their office to preach and 
convert heretics, and Black Friars from their garments. First 
settled at Oxford in 1221, a year or two later they came to 
London under the powerful patronage of Hubert de Burgh. 
Their house was in Shoe Lane, near Holborn. It was not until 
1276 that they moved down to the Thames, having then 
acquired the land, in part by gift of Gregory de Rokesley, the 
Mayor, and in part from the Knights Templars and others. 

Such was their prestige that they obtained liberty from 
King Edward the First to pull down a portion of the wall of 
London, and then to rebuild it at the City's charge from 
Ludgate to the Thames, so as to enclose and protect their 
precinct. The matter is the more remarkable, as the wall 
still formed the chief military defence of the City. No other 
body, clerical or lay, ever succeeded in obtaining a like privilege. 
Robert Kilwarby, a Dominican, had been chosen Archbishop 
of Canterbury, and to his good offices, no doubt, the friars were 
indebted for the Sovereign's favour. As reconstructed, there 
was a turret near Ludgate, and another where the wall turned 
at the Fleet, and continued along its bank to the Thames. 1 

A substantial portion of the wall as rebuilt for the Black 
Friars in 1278 may be seen to-day, and after six centuries 
still performs an excellent service. It is in the basement of 
Nos. 41-43 Ludgate Hill, just below where the ancient Lud-gate 
crossed the street. Its discovery and survival came about in 
this wise. In the year 1891, it happened that my uncle, the 
late Mr. Samuel Knight, was architect of the premises now 
occupying the site, and in excavating for foundations the 
workmen struck this very solid wall. Its solidity and great 
breadth, in fact, would have made its removal a most laborious 
task, and as no better foundation could be desired, the architect 
build the back portion of his premises actually resting upon the 
old City wall. 

1 Patent Roll, 6th Ed. I, Cal., p. 258. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 47 

The line, with a slight deviation south, is that of Pilgrim 
Street, north side. Edward the First's wall rises about 2 feet 
6 inches above the floor level of the basement, and as pillars 
and arches carry much of the weight superimposed upon it, the 
top forms a convenient platform. Messrs. Charles Baker 
& Sons, outfitters, have the house, and when last I took a look 
at the old wall it was utilised for storage and piled high with 
parcels ; at times, I believe, tailors find it convenient to sit 
upon when at work ! So the chain of history and service 
comes down from the first of the English Edwards. 

In chipping out the well for the lift, the one mutilation that 
this particular fragment has undergone, it became evident 
that the mediaeval builders had made use of the old Roman 
wall \vhich they had thrown down, pieces of Roman red tile 
and rudely squared blocks of Kentish rag-stone being embedded 
in mortar with chalk and flint. The wall is here 9 feet in thick- 
ness. It continued in a straight line beneath the adjoining 
City Bank, built from designs by Mr. Collcutt, whose recollec- 
tion is that a portion of the City wall there had to be destroyed 
when excavating for the strong-rooms. A few years ago, nearer 
Ludgate Hill railway station, the wall was again struck, not 
many feet below the surface. 

Close by the Bank another relic of the City's defences was 
disclosed after a fire on Ludgate Hill on 1st May, 1792, which 
laid the premises of Messrs. Kay in ruins. It formed part of 
a small projecting watch tower, or barbican, rising 22 feet 
from foundation to summit, and Nathaniel Smith, the engraver, 
to whose views of old London later generations are so much 
indebted, promptly made a print of it. 

We have no drawings or remains of the Dominican Priory 
within the wall, though excavations made during extensions 
of The Times premises about Printing House Square brought 
to light some substantial fragments. x The destruction under 
King Henry the Eighth was peculiarly complete. But the 
convent of the Black Friars ranked among the largest in 
area of all the religious houses in London. Scattered among 
contemporary records are frequent allusions to the magnificence 
of its buildings. Four gates gave entrance to the precinct. 
At the angle of the wall was a " certain good and comely 

1 In the Guildhall Museum there is a painting of these. 



48 FLEET STREET 

tower," originally reserved for the accommodation of King 
Edward the First, a great benefactor of the Dominicans, 
whenever he might choose to visit the brethren. Queen 
Eleanor, too, made valuable gifts. Montfichet's Tower was 
completely destroyed — parts of it had already done service 
for St. Paul's — in order that the stones might be used by the 
Friars in the erection of their church, which was one of the 
finest conventual churches in the kingdom. 

The citizens cast envious eyes upon it when the day of 
dissolution arrived. In a petition by the Mayor, Aldermen, 
and Commonalty to King Henry the Eighth in the year 1538, 
it is referred to as among the " most ample churches within 
your said city, Powles (St. Paul's) only except." 

Rising on the steep bank the convent must have had a fine 
appearance, the church tower standing amidst the red-tiled 
roofs of the dwellings, and trees planted in the gardens showing 
green above the wall. So large was the great hall of the Black 
Friars (Stow says the church) that Parliaments were held there, 
by King Henry the Sixth in 1450, and more notably the 
" Black Parliament " of Henry the Eighth in 1524, when the 
king demanded a huge subsidy. Peculiar sanctity attached 
to the church, to which the Friars removed the body of their 
patron, Hubert de Burgh, from Shoe Lane. Numbered among 
its relics was the heart of Queen Eleanor ; and in the spacious 
aisles were buried John of Eltham, brother of Edward the 
Third, Elizabeth Countess of Arundel, the hapless Lord Audley, 
who had been dragged in derision to Tower Hill in a suit of 
paper armour, all torn, and there beheaded in 1497, and many 
other notabilities, of whom Stow in his Survey of London 
gives a list. 

With this short incursion into Blackfriars, necessary to fill 
in the impression of the Fleet's eastern bank, I leave the friars 
behind their wall, which thenceforward marked the limits of 
the walled city : and it must mark the limits of this book, 
unless the covers are to be unduly distended. Like Baynard's 
Castle, just beyond, from the gates of which Robert FitzWalter, 
Banneret of the City, marched out with his train of armed 
men, and within whose rebuilt halls King Richard the Third 
received from the Mayor and citizens on bended knee the offer 
of the English Crown, the splendid house of the Black Friars 
belongs to the City, and not to the suburb. Its liberties long 



THE MEDIAEVAL SUBURB 49 

survived its own dissolution. The Mayor and Sheriffs had no 
jurisdiction within the precinct, which thus was able to give 
refuge in Elizabeth's reign to the famous Blackfriars Theatre 
and Shakespeare's players. The same state of things is found 
in relation to the earliest Whitefriars theatre, established 
on the lands of the White Friars' Priory. 

All Fleet Street was for centuries in " the suburb of London," 
and this description is repeatedly applied in contemporary 
documents. 

Across the Fleet a Royal Palace, already in ruinous con- 
dition, stood out in sad neglect, contrasting oddly with the 
ostentatious splendour of the Friars. Early as it is to talk of 
ruins, that seems to have been the state of Bridewell, which 
overlooked the convent, occupying a very large area. The 
present Bridewell is but a speck of it. The palace had river 
frontage both on the Thames and Fleet, and its grounds 
extended back to Salisbury Square. An ancient tower, or 
castle, had stood here amid the marshes where a tongue of 
land ran out to the Thames. This can be traced back to the 
Saxon era, and possibly was Roman in origin — the western 
Arx Palatina of the city. 

Never has a Royal castle and palace left so insignificant a 
history as Bridewell until Henry the Eighth took it in hand. 
As a fortress it has no record. Almost all that is known 
indicates a derelict building, isolated amidst surrounding wastes. 

The long story of demolition appears to have started with 
William the Conqueror, who in the year of his death gave the 
choicest stones of the castle to Maurice, Bishop of London, 
for the building of old St. Paul's, after fire had destroyed the 
early church. Then Henry the First capped this bit of spolia- 
tion by giving the stones from the castle-yard wall facing the 
Thames for the erection of gateways and a wall to enclose 
the Cathedral precinct. Even after this, according to Stow, 
who is not quite at ease with his authorities, the house remained 
large, so that the kings of the realm long after were lodged 
there, and kept their Courts : "for until the ninth year of 
Henry the Third, the Courts of law and justice were kept in the 
king's house, wheresoever he was lodged, and not elsewhere. 
And that the kings have been lodged and kept their Law Courts 
in this place, I could show you many authors of record." * 

1 Stow's Survey of London, Ed. Kingsford, i, 69. 

4— (2246) 



50 FLEET STREET 

Mathew Paris tells of a Parliament summoned by King 
John at St. Bride's, in London, in 1210, when he exacted of the 
clergy and religious persons the sum of £100,000. Besides all 
this, the " white monks " were compelled to cancel their 
privileges and pay £40,000 to the king. One of the few sur- 
viving records of early Bridewell is that in the seventh year of 
King John judgment was given there in an important law suit, 
" Walter de Crisping being Justiciar, and other Barons of my 
Lord the King being present." 

Curious that nothing is heard of rebuilding at this much 
denuded palace. While King Henry the Third was completing 
the outer bailey of the Tower of London, at the eastern end of 
the City, and by additions and repairs making that fortress 
and palace still more formidable, Bridewell was left to decay. 
Whatever its original strength may have been, in historic 
times it played but a minor role both as a Royal residence 
and place of defence, its importance overshadowed by the great 
stronghold below London Bridge. 

The site has been pretty thoroughly excavated, and ancient 
foundations disclosed indicate the large area of the palace. 
Notably in 1873-4, during the building of the London City 
Mission house in Bridewell Precinct. " In the excavations 
for the foundations, old walls were laid bare of such massive 
strength as to point to a Roman (?) origin. Formed of rubble 
and chalk, they offered such resistance to the efforts of the 
pickaxe that they were utilised wherever possible, and part of 
the walls of the new building stand upon this ancient founda- 
tion. Some difficulty was offered also by springs, tributary, 
no doubt, to the old St. Bride's well, which is close at hand." 1 
Buried foundations were also uncovered in trenches cut in 
1876 for Messrs. Ward and Lock's premises abutting upon 
the London City Mission ; and other remains during deep 
excavations in 1905 for Messrs. Spicer Brothers' warehouse in 
Water Street. A portion of the skull of some warrior who 
had met a violent end, for it bears marks of a serious wound, 
a brick of a pointed arch, and some fragments of pottery in 
this find are in the Guildhall Museum. 

King John, as already said, found lodging with the Templars 



The Daily Telegraph, May, 1874. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 51 

preferable to occupying his own Royal house. It is question- 
able if Bridewell was then habitable. Of later times (quoting 
Stow) the house being left and not used by kings, it fell to ruins ; 
the very platforms remained for a great part waste, a mere 
receiving ground for filth and rubbish. Centuries after, under 
the Tudors, Bridewell enjoyed a temporary spell of grandeur, 
only again to decay and be put to use as a penitentiary for 
rogues and vagabonds. Its last condition is perhaps the best. 
The coming of the Carmelite Friars and their establishment, 
about 1241, on the ground still known as Whitefriars, from 
their traditional dress, completed the line of great settlements 
and imposing buildings which stretched along the river bank 
right away from Ludgate to Temple Bar. 

What were the characteristics of the suburb thus early in 
mediaeval London ? Ecclesiastical, above all else. The clergy 
and religious lived in the great houses, and owned many of 
the smaller ones. What they came to own in Fleet Street as 
time went on you will find graphically shown in a map of the 
locality in Henry the Eighth's reign. It was not without 
reason that travellers from the Continent described London as 
a city of spires. Later the vintners and ale-house keepers 
made Fleet Street brave with their figured signs hanging well 
over the narrow way, but that I come to by and by. Fitz- 
stephen speaks of thirteen conventual churches and 126 lesser 
parochial churches in London and its suburbs in his day. 

The city was crowded with churches and conventual estab- 
lishments. Complaint was made to King Edward the Second 
that the religious Orders, bearing no part of the burden to 
repair London's wall, held land amounting to the third part 
of the rental of the city ; and the western suburb had its 
full share. Besides the priories of the Dominicans and 
Carmelites, each with its church, and the Temple with a 
third, there were the two parish churches. St. Bride's and St. 
Dunstan's stood on opposite sides of the way to Westminster. 

Nor was this all, for the houses of bishops and abbots, with 
ample gardens and pleasaunces, occupied a great deal of ground, 
edging out the laymen, and each had its private chapel. For 
centuries, when a journey to London from a distant See was 
a serious undertaking, occupying a fortnight or more, and the 
prelate travelled with a guard of soldiers, priests, and retainers, 



52 FLEET STREET 

each bishop had his house, or " hostel," in the metropolis, 
where he kept his Court during the sittings of Parliament or 
his attendance on the Sovereign. 

Although so modestly named, these were among the most 
lordly dwellings of the mediaeval capital, and in magnificence 
they outshone the mansions of the nobles. Back in the 
fourteenth century a spectator standing at Fleet Bridge would 
pick out quite a number of them. 

Looking up Fleet Street, there were two ecclesiastical 
establishments at his feet. On the left, where now is the 
south-west corner of Ludgate Circus, the Bishop of St. David's 
built his hostel against Bridewell. x Opposite, also at the foot 
of the street, was an estate known as the Popinjay, the site 
and name of which are preserved in Poppins Court. This was 
the town hostel of the Abbot and Convent of Cirencester, in 
Gloucestershire. Early as 1428 the wealthy Abbot had ceased 
to reside there, or, at any rate, to enjoy its exclusive use. In 
that year Roger Lardener, a baker, and a parishioner of St. 
Bride's, made his will. The old parchment is preserved, and 
by codicil attached he left to William Lardener, his brother, his 
leasehold interest in the hostel of the Abbot and Convent of 
Circester called " Popyngaye " in Fletestrete. The gift further 
comprised certain coverlitz, blankettes, sheets, and matrasses 
which the testator had therein for his use. 2 The Popinjay, 
with much other ecclesiastical property, fell into the hands 
of Henry the Eighth at the suppression of the religious houses. 

Beyond the Bishop of St. David's hostel, with the river 
frontage, much of the spacious grounds of Bridewell (east and 
south of Salisbury Square) had been alienated in the thirteenth 
century to the Bishop of Salisbury. As already said, he was 
in residence there in 1290. 3 We have a record forty-seven 

1 Stow's Survey, Ed. Kingsford, ii, 45. 

2 Husting Wills, ii, 454. 

3 Mr. Noble (Memorials of Temple Bar) mentions in a curiously 
casual way, in a brief account of Salisbury Court, that " it takes its 
name from a mansion and gardens upon the site, once in possession of 
' My Lord of Winchester,' but about the year 1217 granted by William, 
Abbot of Westminster, to Richard, Bishop of Sarum, or Salisbury, at 
the yearly rental of 20s., the Abbot retaining the advowson of St. 
Bride's Church, but promising to impart to the Bishop any advice that 
may be needed, etc." No authority is given for this statement, and I 
have found none. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 53 

years later of there having been stolen, in the hostel of the 
Bishop of Sarum in Fletestrete, in the suburb of London, 
thirty dishes and twenty-four salt-cellars of silver, of the 
value of £40. 

A woman, Desiderata de Toryntone, at the gaol delivery 
made at Guildhall in 1337, was accused of the theft, the prose- 
cutor being John Baret, and the goods stated to belong to 
his mistress, Lady Alice de Lisle. There were found on the 
prisoner fourteen dishes and twelve salt-cellars, and the record 
is one of business-like brevity : " The jurors say, etc., that the 
said Desiderata is guilty of the felony aforesaid. Therefore 
she is to be hanged. Chattels she has none." * 

Yet further up the rise of Fleet Street the spire of the 
Carmelite church, and perhaps some part of the friars' buildings, 
must have been visible, and beyond a glimpse was caught of 
the Round of the Temple Church. 

Across the street, above the Popinjay and Shoe Lane, the 
Abbot of Peterborough had his hostel, with a large garden, 
which gave its name to Peterborough Court. 2 The whole 
ground is now covered by the huge premises of The Daily 
Telegraph. Near by was the town dwelling of the Abbot of 
Vale Royal. In Shoe Lane the Abbot of Rievaulx, in York- 
shire, held property formerly owned by one Dame Matilda de 
Caumpervifie, of which little is known save that in 1310 he 
was accused of having seized it without the king's authority, 
and an inquisition was held at St. Bride's Church into the 
matter. 8 This same thoroughfare, nearer to St. Andrew's, 
Holborn, contained the Bishop of Bangor's inn. It was built 
on land granted by Edward the Third to Gilbert, Bishop of 
Bangor, in 1374, then described as " one messuage, one plot of 
ground, one garden, and other edifices in Shoe Lane, London," 4 
so there must have been considerable clearance before his 
lordship had a place to his liking. The grant was confirmed by 
Henry the Eighth to a later occupant of the See. 5 

In Chancery Lane was the town hostel of the Bishop of 
Chichester, and in Fetter Lane that of the Bishop of Norwich. 

1 Letter Book E. Memorials, p. 196. 

2 See chap. 12, post. 

* Letter Book D. Cal., p. 236. 

4 Patent Roll, 48th Edward III, pt. 1, m. 19. 

6 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 3 (2), 3019. 



54 FLEET STREET 

Along the valley of the Fleet River, the seat of the Bishops 
of Ely closed in the view. Ely Place was a large precinct, 
entered by a gateway with towers — I suspect that the old 
wooden mitre now used as a sign for the Mitre Tavern hard by, 
a fragment, apparently, of a carved figure, originally stood 
over the gate. It had many fine buildings, cloisters, and 
stables, and gardens extending down the slopes of Saffron Hill 
to the little stream — all that was necessary years afterwards 
to excite the cupidity of Sir Christopher Hatton, Elizabeth's 
handsome and unscrupulous Chancellor : his lease from the 
bishop was on favourable terms — " a red rose, ten loads 
of hay, and ten pounds per annum. Shakespeare, in 
King Richard III, has left a fragrant memory of Ely Place 
and its strawberries. The Chapel of St. Ethelfreda, built 
1290-98, still stands, restored after many vicissitudes to the 
Roman Catholic communion. 

These then were the conditions : the bank down to the 
Fleet River by Ludgate, a quarter busy with the unloading of 
boats, and trading wharves heaped with coal and lime and 
general merchandise, and stinking tanyards near by ; beyond 
to the Thames the fine convent of the Black Friars and Bride- 
well overlooking one another ; a ring of episcopal residences 
about the suburb ; and up the long slope by the White Friars' 
Priory and the Temple, Fleet Street itself — as unlike the 
present street as anything that can be imagined. All idea of a 
straight, continuous thoroughfare must be entirely put 
aside. Littering the street the houses stood, rather than 
built in order, rambling like those of a typical English village. 
Many, no doubt, stood back, others encroached upon the road, 
as may be seen in mediaeval towns on the Continent, where 
destruction has not been so busy as in our own country. 

It is inevitable that so far back as the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries the great houses should be better known 
than those of the humble folk. Yet it is possible to sketch 
in broad outline what Fleet Street was like thus early in its 
existence ; and following closely the records, I will endeavour 
to restore its aspect before Edward the Second's reign drew 
to an inglorious close, filling in the gaps in a subsequent chapter 
with the greater detail which the later fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries afford. 



THE MEDIAEVAL SUBURB 55 

The Templars had gone, their vacant places not yet occupied 
by the lawyers, and near at hand the White Friars made a 
numerous colony. Along the street parts of the grass waste 
doubtless remained, and open fields then and long afterwards 
lay behind a broken line of houses on the north side. Beyond 
Temple Bar the country, flanked by the wide river, was wholly 
rural. In 1315 the people of Westminster petitioned King 
Edward the Second that the way between Temple Bar and the 
King's Palace at Westminster was so bad that the feet of horses 
and of rich and poor men received constant damage, and, 
moreover, was greatly interrupted, " especially by thickets and 
bushes." * 

Lepers, forbidden to live in London, crowded along the way 
beyond Temple Bar, making it terrible and hideous, begging 
alms in the name of God, displaying their sores ; and not alone 
the outcasts from the city, but many from the country 
villages as well. 

Edward the Third addressed his writ to the Sheriff of Middle- 
sex. " All those," he directed, " who have the taint of 
leprosy shall abandon the highways and field ways between the 
city of London and the town of Westminster, where there is 
continual passage of magnates, justices, clerks, and other 
ministers of the King's court," the monarch having been 
informed that lepers there publicly associated with whole men, 
and sat and stayed in such public ways, to the manifest danger 
of those passing. The Sheriff was to take with him discreet 
and lawful men who had most knowledge of this disease, and 
cause all those whom they found to be leprous to be transferred 
to solitary country places — anywhere out of the public view. 
Save that licence be given the poor wretches by some healthy 
messenger to receive alms, the King had no care for them. 2 

Compared with the larger establishments, standing well 
back each in its own grounds, the mean houses which fringed the 
line of Fleet Street were very mean. Few contained more than 
a single room, the walls rising directly out of the earth floor. 
Where there was a shop it was entirely open, without defence 
to wind or weather. The general insecurity of tradesmen's 
wares had led to the provision of selds, or lock-up sheds, wherein 

1 Rotuli Parliamentorum, i, 302. 

2 Close Roll, 20th Ed. Ill, Cal., p. 509. 



56 FLEET STREET 

goods could be stored — forerunners of our safe-deposits, for 
nothing is new. There were several of these within the City. 
The dwellings of more pretence were mostly of timber, with 
an upper room or solar. In the rare instances where stone 
buildings, owned by the more wealthy merchants, were devised 
in wills, they were carefully described as such. John Allin, 
in 1272, left " his estate in a stone house in Fletestrete " to 
Robert and Richard, his sons. * In fact, a stone house was 
still so uncommon that mere mention of it was sufficient 
without further or more special description. 

The precautions adopted against fire, always the gravest 
peril of the timber-built city, indicate how flimsy was the 
common construction. Each ward was called upon to provide 
a strong iron hook, with wooden handle, and two chains and 
two strong cords, which were to be left in charge of the 
beadle of the ward ; and by hook and cord the Alderman was 
empowered unceremoniously to pull down houses in order to 
stay the progress of the flames. Fleet Street had thus early 
(1321) a tradesman, one Robert le Fermor (bootmaker), of 
sufficient standing to supply the luxurious King Edward the 
Second with " six pairs of boots with tassels of silk and drops 
of silver-gilt, price of each pair 5s." 2 A plot of ground and 
shop situate without Ludgate were leased in 1291 by the City 
to Johanna, relict of Bartholomew the Smith, at the rent of 
10s. a year, with the duty cast upon her that she cleared the 
gate of all filth whenever necessary. 3 

London was already losing its picturesque thatch roofs, a 
chief agent in spreading fire. Tiles being costly, they were 
largely replaced by ugly shingle-boards, though there is little 
doubt that the regulations of Fitz-Ailwyne's Assize — London's 
first Building Act given by London's first Mayor — for a long 
period continued to be disregarded. 

The pretty casement windows and overhanging eaves were 
of a later day. Light penetrated the gloomy dwellings through 
mere holes in the walls, and in winter these were closed by 
wooden shutters to keep out the cold. Though glass was 
imported into the City as early as Henry the Third, for a long 



1 Husting Wills, i, 37. 

2 Wardrobe Accounts, 14th Edward II, Archcsologia, xxvi, 344. 
■ Letter Book B. Cal., p. 55. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 57 

time afterwards its great expense only allowed the glazing of 
the upper lights of a window. Rushes, which could be cut at 
no great distance on the Thames banks, strewed the floors. 

There was quite a big trade in rushes. The boats bringing 
them to the Fleet made such a litter, that in a later reign (1416) 
stringent orders were given that cartloads were to be made 
up within the boats, and not on the wharves or ground ; and 
three years after, all the rushboats were seized : " It is granted 
that the risshbotes at the Flete and elsewhere in London 
shall be taken into the hands of the Chamberlain ; and the 
Chamberlain shall cause all the streets to be cleansed." 1 

Would you like to look into one of these dwellings ? I have 
none in Fleet Street itself at command, but a detailed account 
has been preserved of the house of Hugh le Bevere within the 
walls, just as it stood in the year 1337, and it is typical of that 
of the better-class craftsman. Murder was done there. The 
neighbours, breaking in, found the wife Alice lying stark and 
dead upon the floor. A knife was flung into a corner, and 
Hugh — he had been married but a few months — sat beside 
the corpse. He would say nothing, nor would he plead, and 
why that crime was committed, or whether Hugh le Bevere 
was blood-guilty, none to this day can tell. The Sheriff took 
him to Newgate, and there shut him in a cell with penance 
until he died. Meanwhile the City seized his possessions, 
and these they sold, first making an inventory, which sets 
out with the order of a housekeeper's book the domestic 
arrangements of this fourteenth century household. 

I have called Hugh le Bevere a better-class craftsman, and 
such he must have been, for his furniture and clothing sold for 
£12 18s. 4d., a sum in the then money values far above the 
competence of any of the poorer workers to amass. 

The house consisted of two apartments, one above the other. 
The lower room had a door opening into the street, and was 
kitchen and keeping-room in one. It had a chimney and a 
fireplace. Light came through the one window upon the street, 
of which the upper part alone was glazed, the remainder being 
closed by a wooden shutter. A door at the back led to the 
buttery, where there stood ranged six wine casks. A tressle 
table and two chairs were the only furniture, but the kitchen 



1 Letter Book I, Memorials, p 676. 



58 FLEET STREET 

was well supplied with serviceable utensils. There were brass 
pots, a grate, andirons, basins, washing vessels, an iron horse, 
an iron cooking-spit, a frying-pan, a funnel, and two ankers, 
or tubs. 

A ladder gave access to the upper room, entered by a space 
left open in the floor. This was the solar, or sleeping room. 
Like the rest of the house, it was timber built, but in compliance 
with the City's regulations, stone walls divided the dwelling 
from the houses on either side. The room contained a bed, on 
which was a mattress, and there were three feather beds and two 
pillows. A great wooden coffer was against the wall. In 
this were stored six blankets and one serge or coverlet with 
shields of sendall (a kind of thin silk) , eight linen sheets, and 
four table cloths. Alice, the newly-made wife, may justifiably 
have looked with pride upon her well-stored press. 

The clothes were one coat with a hood of perset (peach- 
coloured cloth) and another of worsted ; three surcoats of 
worsted and ray ; two robes of perset ; one of medley furred ; 
one of scarlet furred ; a great hood of sendall with edging ; 
the lady's one camise (a light, loosely-fitting dress) and half 
a dozen savenapes, or aprons. A candlestick " of lattone," 
two plates, an aumbrey (cabinet or small cupboard) also went 
to the furnishing of this simple household, and for luxury 
they had curtains to hang before the door to keep out the cold, 
cushions, and even a green carpet, while for the husband's 
use there was a haketon, or suit of quilted leather armour, and 
an iron head-piece. l 

Comfort as we realise it simply did not exist in these early 
mediaeval houses, where draughts pierced to the bone, and the 
smoke of the wood-fire begrimed everything. Glass mirrors, 
pictures, forks, even writing paper, were unknown, and only 
the wealthy could conceal the bare walls with tapestry. The 
bed, an important article in the households of the well-to-do, 
among humble folk consisted merely of a heap of straw. Upon 
this a whitel, or blanket, was thrown. There was an early 
proverb, handed down by Bishop Grosseteste in the Book of 
Husbandry — " Who-so streket (stretcheth) his fot forthere 
than the whitel will reche, he schal streken (stretch) in the 
straw." 



1 Besant's London. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 59 

We need not go outside Fleet Street for a singular confirma- 
tion of this piece of domestic economy. There is a Coroners' 
Roll of Edward the First, 1275-6. It tells how John le Han- 
crete came from a City feast very drunk — hard that this lapse 
should stand against him through all these centuries — to his 
lodging in the house of William the tub-maker in St. Bride's. 
But the document is short enough to be quoted — * 

Ward of Anketin de Auvergne. 2 — On Wednesday next after the 
feast of St. Michael in the year aforesaid, the said Chamberlain and 
Sheriffs were given to understand that one John le Hancrete was lying 
dead, by another than his rightful death, in the house of William le 
Cuver, in the Ward of Anketil de Auvergne, in the Parish of St. Brigid. 
Upon hearing which, the said Chamberlain and Sheriffs went there, 
and upon the oath of the good men of that Ward diligent inquisition 
was made thereon. 

Who say that the said John came from a certain feast that had 
been held in the City of London to the house of William before-named, 
being very drunk, that is to say, on the Monday before, at the hour of 
Vespers, where he had hired his bed by the day ; and that then, intend- 
ing to lie down upon it, he took a lighted candle for the purpose of 
making his bed ; which done, he left the candle burning, and fell asleep 
thereon. And the candle being thus left without anyone to look after 
it, the flame of it caught the straw of the bed upon which the said 
John was lying ; and accordingly, he, as well as the bed and the straw 
aforesaid, was burnt, through the flame of the candle so communicating, 
at about the hour of midnight. And so, languishing from the effects 
thereof, he lived until the Tuesday following, at the hour of Matins, 
on which day and hour he died from the burning aforesaid. Being 
asked if they hold anyone suspected of the death of the said John, 
they say they do not. And the body was viewed ; upon which no wound 
or hurt appeared, save only the burning aforesaid. 

And the two nearest neighbours were attached, by sureties. And 
William le Cuver was attached, in whose house he was burnt ; and 
Fynea, the wife of the said William, was attached ; and also Remund, 
the son of William. 

Short of the gift of that much-needed invention, the philoso- 
pher's glass, which shall enable the user to look back over 
the centuries, the historian can do little more than piece to- 
gether his mosaic out of the scraps saved from the past. Life 
six centuries ago was largely, indeed necessarily, passed out 
of doors. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the 
people lived in the street. It was the place where trade was 
noisily conducted, and the place of gossip — a vastly important 

1 Letter Book B. Memorials, p. 8. 

2 Ward of Farringdon. See p. 123, post. 



60 FLEET STREET 

item in mediaeval affairs, when few people could read 
and there were few writings, and the news of the time passed 
from mouth to mouth. The day's work started early, for 
candles were poor and dear, and sunlight too precious to waste. 
An old rhyme tells — 

Lever a cinq, diner a neuf, 
Souper a cinq, coucher a neuf, 
Fait vivre d'ans nonante et neuf. x 

The craftsman worked at his door or open shop. Shutters 
thrown back from the windows made the upper rooms alike 
open, and in the sinuous line of the street below threading the 
timber-framed houses animation was never lacking. The 
changing picture made a pageant of bright colour, for men and 
women alike favoured simple hues, and emerald greens, and 
blues, and brilliant reds were much in vogue. Every man 
went hooded. The peasant alone remained very Norman in 
appearance, with loose hood and tunic, ill-fitting tights, and 
clumsy shoes. And this has to be borne in mind by all who 
try to repeople the quaint old London streets through and 
long after the mediaeval era : nearly every man's trade was 
told by his characteristic dress, which indicated in any group 
the butcher, the carpenter, the tiler, the seaman, the lawyer, 
the clerk, and the City apprentice. 

And the people who thronged the street ? John de Flete 
was there, and Richard de Fletbrigge (at least, I imagine 
them there) with William de Lodgate, John atte Watre (by 
the water), Alan atte conduit, John atte Stronde, Richard 
le Con vers (of the Converted Jews' house in Chancery Lane), 
and John le Meneter of Fletstrete. 2 These and others so styled 
occur repeatedly in the City's Letter Books, when the Christian 
name and place of residence or calling — tanner, tub-maker, 
sporier, and capper — were counted sufficient to distinguish 
men and women. William de Flete was elected M.P. for the 
City to attend Edward the Second's Parliament at Lincoln 
in 1315 ; and again, four years later, to attend a Parliament at 



1 To rise at five, to dine at nine, 
To sup at five, to bed at nine, 
Makes a man live to ninety and nine. 

2 Meaning minter, or moneyer. The " Menters House " in Fleet 
Street is mentioned about 1309 in Letter Book C. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 61 

York. Such names as are also to be found, as Freshfysshe, 
Piggesflesshe, Killehogge, and, more significantly, John 
Outlawe and Matilda Strumpet and Alice Strumpet, tell their 
own story. 

They were simple people, little taught by Mother Church, 
who worked while the daylight lasted, some staying at home 
making caps — the earliest settled industry that I have been 
able to trace in Fleet Street as it is now known — some trading 
in their shops, others going out to serve the great merchants 
at the wharf or the dwelling- warehouse, to work in the fields, 
or to fish with net or line in the river. The Thames held many 
fish, good salmon among them, which formed no small part 
of London's food supply of a Friday. As commerce grew the 
fishermen were sent further afield, and fishing near to the 
wharves in London between the Temple bridge (boat stairs) 
and the Tower, within a distance of twenty fathoms, was from 
King Richard the Second's time forbidden by the City's 
regulations. 

Richard Dawe so went out to fish on the 7th July, in the 
year 1277. Sailing towards Westminster in the boat of Gilbert 
de Whyte, the oar with which he was guiding the craft broke, 
and he fell into the water and was drowned. The body was 
recovered and brought to the man's home at Crockerelane, 
Whitefriars, and an inquest there held. x 

Lame de Machare lived in the parish of St. Bridget, in 
Fleet Street (in vico de Fletbrigge) in 1278. That year she was 
very ill of dropsy, unable to attend church save with the aid 
of crutches, and soon became a spectacle that affrighted her 
neighbours. Life itself was despaired of. Simon de Montfort 
had perished at the Battle of Evesham thirteen years before ; 
and the people, believing that he fell in their cause, had made 
him a saint of the populace. To his shrine at Evesham the 
stricken woman determined to go, seeking relief from her 
sufferings, and a quaint Latin text in the Cotton MS., British 
Museum, which tells the miraculous story, sets out how she 
journeyed from London on her long pilgrimage, starting on the 
seventh day of Pentecost. 

Her husband wheeled along the crippled and distorted wife 
on a sort of bier. It had but one wheel, and two short legs 

1 Letter Book B. Cal., pp. 267-8. See also p. 101, post. 



62 FLEET STREET 

to rest on the ground — a handbarrow, as we should say. Thus 
painfully toiling, the two arrived at Evesham, in Worcester- 
shire, on the anniversary of the Blessed Peter ad Vincula. 
Straight they went to the abbey church, and there Lame de 
Machare passed the whole day in prayer. On the morrow she 
was conveyed, still wheeled on the bier, to St. Simon's fountain, 
and there she prayed, drank of the water, and bathed her body 
in it. " Which being done," says the writer of the miracle, 
" she at once received back her health, and stood erect, and 
was able to go without any crutch to the church of the Blessed 
Mary and of the Blessed Edwina, and there she praised God for 
her fully recovered strength." * 

Perhaps religious fervour has coloured the simple story. 
Perhaps not. Lame de Machare, of Fleet Street in the year 
1278, is worth recalling for the faith that was hers. 

One morning late in this thirteenth century the townsfolk 
clustered about the little church of St. Bride's. John de Flete, 
a prosperous capper, came from the altar with his newly-made 
bride, and at the church porch the wedding party stopped 
for a ceremony we should little understand. He was endowing 
his wife Cassandra with property, for he had a tenement and 
wharf at the Fleet and shops in the parish among other 
possessions, and when he died she entered into her heritage 
without further to do. 2 In those simpler days a declaration 
of endowment of a wife made after marriage at the church 
door before witnesses (dower ad ostium ecclesie) had the force 
of law — much, we may be confident, to the disgust of the 
lawyers, who were not employed. The practice fell into 
disuse, but was not formally abolished until the reign of King 
William the Fourth. 

The church bells rang for the marriage. They rang for a 
christening ; they tolled for a death ; they sent out joyous 
peals on all occasions of good news, and summoned the faithful 
for Mass and Evensong. Fancy the clamour, all the belfreys 
clustered together in a space of little above a square mile, 
one or another of them rarely silent the livelong day ! As 
evening fell, the great bell of St. Martin 's-le-Grand gave the 
signal, and St. Bride's rang out the curfew to the suburb. 



1 Miracula Symonis de Montfort (Camden Society), p. 108. 

2 Husting Wills, i, 45. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 63 

When death approached, as was not unseldom, the note was 
mournful. Friends and mourners followed on foot, forming a 
long procession for which all in the street made way ; the 
dead master's craft guild represented by its warden and officers. 
Men carried the coffin on their shoulders to the church, and in 
the Fleet Street churchyard the departed was laid for his last 
rest among his neighbours. At the porch the vicar waited to 
receive his mortuary — originally a free gift left by a man to his 
parish church, for recompense of any personal tithes and offer- 
ings not duly paid in his lifetime, but which, even before 
Henry the Third's long reign had closed, the parish priests 
came to claim as their right. 

Discontent at the clergy's exactions long simmered, and — 
to look forward for the moment a full century and a half — 
broke out in open rioting in St. Dunstan's Church in 1457. 
The citizens asserted that they were only bound to make 
offerings on Sundays and on the feasts of the apostles whose 
vigils were fasts, but this was not the view of their pastors, 
and in those days the clergy were able to sue for unpaid offer- 
ings. A certain Robert White was so sued, and the Common 
Council decided that he should be defended at the cost of the 
City if the case were taken to Rome. Pope Nicholas decided 
against White, and fixed the number of days when offerings 
should be made ; but the City, in its independence, refused to 
acknowledge the Bull, and not until twenty years after was 
submission made ; x while the suburbs resisted successfully 
until the Papal power in England was overthrown. 2 

Serjeants at Ludgate collected murage for the repair of the 
wall and the city's dues, " skilful men and fluent of speech," 
who were also charged " to keep a good watch upon persons 
coming in and going out, that so no evil may befall the city." 3 
The tolls instituted under King Henry the Third, about 1266, 
have this peculiar feature : they seem aimed at discouraging 
trade by the western roads into the City. Why, it is difficult 
to fathom. I had first thought the fact of Fleet Street being a 
comparatively late highway might have explained a preference 
for the older routes, but Holborn, in several instances, is 



1 Victoria History of London, i, 248. 

2 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 5, No. 1778. 

* Provisions for safe-keeping of the City, 10th Ed. I, Memorials, p. 21 . 



64 FLEET STREET 

treated in the same way. Money being scarce, bargains were 
commonly made by exchanges of goods. 

On victuals brought in at the gates the tax was a farthing 
or a halfpenny, and rarely a penny (then a much more con- 
siderable sum than our modest copper coin), but the tax- 
gatherers were prepared to receive payment in kind. Thus : " If 
a man on foot brings 100 eggs or more, he shall give five eggs, 
the franchise excepted." x "A cart that brings boards for sale, 
if it brings a quarter of 100 or more, shall give one board. . . . 
The cart that brings planks of oak, shall give one plank ; and 
if it brings planks of beech, it shall give one halfpenny and one 
plank." 

Incidentally this item is in the tariff : " For every dead 
Jew buried in London, three-pence halfpenny." 

Carts coming by the Fleet bridge or Holborn were penalised 
in higher charges ; for corn the rates being elsewhere one- 
halfpenny, here one penny ; nuts and cheese twopence, here 
twopence halfpenny ; and the same with vehicles bringing 
wool or hides. There is one exception. Loaded with bark, 
the cart paid one-halfpenny, " and if it enters by Holburne or 
by the Flete it shall pay nothing." 2 This last concession, 
no doubt, was extracted by the tanners, who, as already said, 
were very busy curing leather along the Fleet. 

The clergy also levied. At Bishopsgate the Bishop of London 
had from every cartload of wood passing through one stick, 
and the citizens complained that, as he enjoyed this privilege, 
his lordship " ought to find the hinges for Bushoppesgate." The 
upkeep of this gate later passed to the Hanse Merchants. 

The visitor to Westminster Abbey of course sees the ancient 
Chapel of the Pyx, now happily thrown open for inspection, 
and has read, or is told, how it was forced when the Royal 
treasure and regalia of the first of the English Edwards were 
stored there. In this dark and walled up chamber, beneath 
the sacred aegis of the Abbot of St. Peter's, they were thought 
to be safe, but they were stolen in the year 1303. It was 
not by some enemy's splendid raid, but by the stealthy iniquity 
of men of God. The Sub-Prior of Westminster contrived the 
plot, and the Sacristan helped to carry it out. In two black 

1 This means, freemen of the City excepted. 

a Customs of Henry III. Liber Albus, Riley, p 204-5. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 65 

panniers the treasure was ferried across to the southern bank 
of the Thames, and never has been heard of since. I recall the 
matter only because some disorderly characters of Fleet Street 
were held gravely suspect. 

It is told in the Letter Books how William de Kinebautone 
and John his brother, and Chastanea la Barbere and Alice her 
sister, met that eventful week in a certain house within the 
close of Fleet Prison, together with a horseman and four other 
ribalds unknown, for two nights, and there spent the time until 
midnight eating and drinking, and then withdrew with arms 
towards Westminster. In the morning they returned, and this 
they did for two nights, and never were seen again. And 
because about the same time the treasury was broken into, 
these were held suspect of the felony and the robbery, * and the 
City's officers were enjoined, together with the King's marshals, 
to take them alive or dead. 

Some things at this time we might like to restore ; the 
fresh country winds blowing undenled over the City, the 
" thickets and bushes " along the Strand, and the view of the 
Thames in full flood pouring towards the sea — a view to be 
caught at every turn in Fleet Street. To-day the river lies quite 
apart from the street and its life. Fitzstephen's description 
of London in the twelfth century, so often quoted, is wholly 
laudatory : its citizens' houses with gardens and orchards, 
beyond the north wall meadows intersected by running brooks, 
turning water-mills with a pleasant noise, and not far off a 
great forest chase. A'Becket's secretary fared well, and life 
was a pleasant thing. But on the whole the picture is a dark 
one. 

Against Fitzstephen there is to be placed a vivid passage 
by Roger de Hoveden. Therein you may see London's perils 
at night. It was a practice for gangs of " a hundred or more 
in company " to besiege wealthy houses for plunder, and 
unscrupulously murder anyone who happened to come in their 
way. Their vocation was so flourishing that when one of 
their number was condemned, he had the surpassing assurance 
to offer King Henry the Second 500 pounds of silver for his 
life. The gallows claimed its due, and no doubt the Royal 



1 Letter Book C. Cal., p. 125. 

5— (2246) 



66 FLEET STREET 

Treasury had the silver. Not until Henry the Third was 
a regular watch established in cities and boroughs, when the 
king enforced performance of a public duty by giving a person 
plundered by a thief the right of recovering an equivalent 
for his loss from the district wherein the felony occurred. 

The city which at its folkmete chose Stephen for the English 
throne, and aided the barons against King John, occupied a 
peculiar position of independence. The Charter given by 
William the Conqueror delivered London from the tyranny of 
any overlord, save the Sovereign himself ; it acknowledged 
neither earl nor baron. This precious historical document, 
a scrap of parchment bearing but sixty-six words, may be seen 
at Guildhall. The franchise that gave the sheriffs the right 
to arrest felons and hold them for trial before the King's 
Justiciars within the City or by its own officials at Guildhall, 
was upheld against the King in many instances. 

One only I need mention. Five Welshmen — Tyder Thoyd, 
Edmund the Welchman, Meric de Berdeche, Mereduz de 
Beauveur, and Hersal de Theder — were seized in July, 1311, 
for burglary and robbing Dionisia le Bokebyndere " in her 
house in Fletestrete in the suburbs of London/' 

The name is interesting. Dionisia the bookbinder six full 
centuries ago was engaged in Fleet Street in that industry 
of the letter press (then written, not printed) which has made 
the fame of the street. 

These Welshmen belonged to Edward the Second's house- 
hold, and his Marshal, Peter de Bernardestone, appeared at 
Guildhall and demanded in the King's name that they should be 
surrendered to him ; if any one, said he, wished to prosecute 
them, he must do so before the Seneschal. The Mayor, John 
de Gysorz, and the sheriffs and aldermen refused to deliver the 
men for trial out of the City. Summoned to attend the King's 
Council, then sitting at Blackfriars, they returned the same 
answer. 1 Probably the thieving Welshmen had short shrift. 

But while thus engaged in withstanding (not always success- 
fully) aggression from without, the mediaeval city developed a 



1 Letter Book D. Memorials, p. 89. See also a similar issue raised 
in 1315 in " The hall of his lordship the King, holden at St. Dunstan's 
within the Bar of the New Temple at London," recorded in Liber 
Albus, Riley, p. 261. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 67 

grinding tyranny of its own. Laws of general use were 
strengthened, always in the direction of greater restriction. 
Despite all forms, London was ruled by the despotism of a 
narrow aristocracy, until, as civic life developed, the offices 
became more effectively electoral. If any one there be, like 
Councillor Knap in Hans Anderson's story, who really is anxious 
for the return of " the good old times," let him read Mr. Riley's 
introduction to the Liber Albus in the Rolls Series, that he may 
know how fared the favoured and so-called free citizen. That 
is no fairy tale. Below the tradesman and the skilled artisan 
existed a great unconsidered class, the sediment of the town 
population, herding together outside the walls or in the 
marshes by the river — a mass of men and women, neglected 
and outcast, which in the Middle Ages, Dr. Jessop has said, 
formed a dense slough of stagnant misery, squalor, famine, 
loathsome disease, and dull despair, such as the worst slums 
of London, Paris, or Liverpool know nothing of. x 

Even in the houses of the great, the hall, which by day was 
the dining apartment and the lord's court of justice, at night 
served the purpose of a sleeping room for the whole of the 
household staff, both male and female, who made their beds 
by the walls. Mediaeval modesty did not provide a night- 
dress. An amusing set of instructions for the management 
of a household tells the lady of the house to teach her servants 
" prudently to extinguish their candles before they go into their 
bed, with the mouth or with the hand, and not with their 
shirt " — that is to say, they were not to get into bed half 
undressed, and then put out the candle by throwing their shirts 
upon it. 2 After this, the moral state of the lower orders, 
huddled together in dirty hovels, may be left to the imagina- 
tion. Plague and the Black Death stalked abroad, and 
frightful toll was taken of the common people, suffering from 
contagious disease in every form, then classed under the general 
name of leprosy. 

A great thunderstorm and torrents of rain swept over 
London in July, 1316, which did vast damage to Fleet Bridge 
and Holborn Bridge, destroyed houses and mills, and carried 
away both men and children in the flood. 3 It came in a time 

1 The Coming of the Friars, p. 9. 

* D. J. Medley in Social England, i, 546. 

3 Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London (Riley), p. 252, 



68 FLEET STREET 

of dearth, and was followed by famine, of which Stow, from 
some old chronicler, gives a terrible picture — 

A grevious mortalitie of people so that the quick might unneath 
bury the dead. The Beastes and Cattell also by the corrupt Grasse 
whereof they fedde dyed, whereby it came to pass that the 
eating of fleshe was suspected of all men, for flesh of Beastes 
not corrupted was hard to find. Horseflesh was counted 
great delicates ; the poore stole fatte Dogges to eat ; some 
(as it was said) compelled through famine, in hidde places, did eate 
the flesh of their owne children, some stole others which they devoured. 
Thieves that were in prison did plucke in peeces those that were newly 
brought amongst them and greedily devoured them half alive. 

Life was held cheaply, and the gallows were busy. A little 
time ahead the records of executions are frequent — 

William de Notyngham was accused at Guildhall of maimour 
of a cup of mazar of the value of ten shillings, thieved from 
Juliana de Hockelee in Fletestrete. 

Roger de Northampton, squyler (probably scullion) was 
indicted for theft of a cup of mazar in the parish of St. Brigid 
in Fletestrete. 

Thomas de Bovyntone was taken at the suit of John de 
Kelfeld for theft in Shoe Lane of a surcoat and two double 
hoods (lined hoods) of the value of four shillings, and two 
sheets of the value of forty pence. 1 

In all cases the penalty is the same : " Therefore hanged ; 
chattels none " — the clerks at Guildhall could not trouble 
themselves to say more of these insignificant offenders. 

Nor were those who should have been God-fearing men 
always to be depended on. I find Richard Heryng, a chaplain, 
in the year 1314 indicted in the ward of Farndon (Farringdon 
Ward) as " a bruiser and a night-walker " ; and the scandal of 
erring brothers among the Carmelite friars, who had lapsed into 
worldliness and led dissolute lives, became so grave that the 
third Edward found it necessary to give orders that such should 
be apprehended and handed over to the Abbot for appropriate 
punishment. * 

That a community so held down should have been subject 
to outbursts of violent lawlessness can occasion no wonder. 
The reign of Edward the Second closed amid civil strife, in 
which the suburb took a full share. The citizens, incensed 

» Letter Book F. Cal., pp. 254, 259, 266. 

2 Patent Roll, 26th Ed. III. Cal., pt. 2, p. 333. 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 69 

by the King's exactions, and moved by intense hatred of the 
powerful family of the Despencers, who supported him, warmly 
espoused the cause of Queen Isabella, and in the rioting Walter 
de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, fell a victim to mob violence. 

Stapledon had just built Exeter Inn, the residence of the 
bishops of his See outside Temple Bar, where now is the Outer 
Temple. Essex Street passes over the site of the house and 
garden. Knowing nothing of what was happening in the City, 
he rode down Fleet Street to a hostel which he also possessed 
in Old Dean's Yard (now Warwick Lane) intending to take 
his mid-day meal there. The mob were wreaking their fury 
on adherents of the Despencers. They dragged John Marshall, 
whom they suspected of being a spy, from his house in Wal- 
brook, and promptly beheaded him, then turned to see the 
Bishop flying for sanctuary to St. Paul's. Before he could 
reach the north door he was intercepted, torn from his horse, 
and hurried into the Cheap, where on ground still wet with 
Marshall's blood his head was struck off. 

Stapledon had been lately Lord High Treasurer of England, 
and as a favourite of Edward the Second, and closely identified 
with his later policy, was exceedingly obnoxious to the people. 
Leaving his bleeding corpse lying on the ground, the mob 
surged towards Fleet Street to execute vengeance on his 
servants. They overtook William Walle near Fleet Bridge, 
where he fell a victim to overwhelming numbers* making a 
stout resistance. Next John of Padington, steward of the 
Bishop's manor, was seized, dragged to the same spot, and 
there despatched. Exeter Inn was plundered and burnt to 
the ground. 

All day the Bishop's headless body lay out in the market, 
none daring to touch it. The head was sent to the Queen at 
Gloucester. As evening fell, the choirmen of St. Paul's ven- 
tured out on a mission of mercy. Raising the corpse, they 
carried it into their church. The angry citizens invaded the 
sanctuary, declaring that the Bishop " had died under sen- 
tence " — that was to say, as a traitor. Once more the choirmen 
set out, bearing their burden through Ludgate and up Fleet 
Street to St. Clement Danes, to place it in the church of the 
Bishop's parish. It was promptly flung out, with that of the 
servant Walle. 

" At length," says the French Chronicle, " certain women 



70 FLEET STREET 

and persons in the most abject poverty took the body, which 
would have been quite naked had not one woman given a piece 
of old cloth to cover the middle, and buried it in a place apart, 
without making a grave, and his esquire near him, without any 
office of priest or clerk." The King and Seagrave, Bishop of 
London, fled from the capital until quieter times returned. 

Three years passed before retribution fell upon the leaders 
of the rioting, who were executed with the customary bar- 
barities. But long before then Bishop Stapledon's body was 
recovered and given honoured burial in Exeter Cathedral 
with all the delayed rites, and over the tomb by the high 
altar his effigy, a fine example of mediaeval art, may still be 
seen. The records of his magnificence survive in the nave 
of his cathedral church, and in Exeter College, Oxford, of 
which he was the original founder ; but the great 
builder and scholar was a worldly, greedy, and corrupt public 
minister. 

This was a tumultuous scene, but Fleet Street had periods 
of quiet that would be almost as strange to it to-day as the 
rush of a mob thoroughly out of hand. The stir of the street 
ceased at evening when curfew was tolled. Ludgate and the 
other City gates then closed, the Serjeants who guarded them 
by day lying down at night within. All taverns for wine or 
ale were to be shut, and no one was to go about the streets or 
ways. This was the law of Edward the First. His successor 
had the gates closed at sunset, but wickets were kept open 
until curfew. Under the third Edward, the night guard of the 
City was yet more stringent. 

" No person shall be so daring," says the proclamation of 
Mayor Reynald de Conduit (1334), " on pain of imprisonment 
as to go wandering about the city after the hour of curfew 
rung out at St. Martin's-le-Grand, unless it be some man of the 
city of good repute, or his servant, and that with reasonable 
cause, and with light." It was the time of the Scottish wars, 
when men's nerves were at tension, and every gathering was 
suspect. 

Even Christmas parties came under ban. " Also we do for- 
bid," runs the proclamation, " that any man shall go about 
at this feast at Christmas with companions disguised with 
false faces (visors or masks), or in any other manner, to the 
houses of the good folks of the city, for playing at dice there ; 



THE MEDIEVAL SUBURB 71 

but let each one keep himself quiet, and at ease within his own 
house." 

Night fell on a sleeping suburb silent as the grave. Not 
a light was anywhere visible. The ward provided a watch of 
six men, who patrolled the dark and narrow streets. Every 
craft was moored against the bank, and no one was per- 
mitted to cross the Thames. Out on the river the Serjeant's 
boat, rowed by four men, guarded against surprise from that 
quarter. 



CHAPTER IV 

LAWYERS IN THE STREET 

Dick. The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. 

Cade. Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that 
of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment ? that 
parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man ? Some say 
the bee stings : but I say, 'tis the bee's wax ; for I did but seal once 
to a thing, and I was never mine own man since. How now ! who's 
there ? 

Smith. The clerk of Chatham : he can write and read and cast accompt. 

Cade. O monstrous ! . . . . 

Away with him, I say ! hang him with his pen and ink-horn about 
his neck. — King Henry VI, Part 2, Act iv, Sc. 2. 

Look back over six centuries of Fleet Street's strenuous life, 
bright as it has been with pageants and memorable for great 
events associated with it, and you will find nothing that 
has left such a permanent impress as the arrival of the 
lawyers. 

The Knights Templars themselves had but a short day. The 
Carmelites, who gave their name to Whitefriars, passed out of 
the street in 300 years. The printers settled only in the six- 
teenth century. The theatres and the players have gone ; 
the colony of literary giants who made their home there — 
Dryden, Goldsmith, Johnson, Richardson, not to forget old 
Izaak Walton and others — are but a memory. Alone of Fleet 
Street's old-time residents the lawyers remain, and barristers 
flitting about in wig and gown between the Law Courts and 
the Temple are to-day among the most familiar figures of the 
street. 

In grudging fashion London acknowledges its debt to them ; 
unless, indeed, it ignores the obligation altogether. They 
settled there in the fourteenth century, far distant from the 
courts at Westminster, and it was not until our own time that 
the courts were brought to them. I have spoken of the 
Temple church, a glorious relic that would have been a ruin 
but for their liberality and care. London owes much more to 
the practitioners of the law. They have preserved their 
charming gardens and delightful Inns, and freely permit the 
public to pass through and enjoy the restfulness and quiet of 

72 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 73 

these open spaces, saved from the press of commerce which 
has wrought such havoc all around. 

Fleet Street is linked about with a chain of legal Inns, intact 
and little changed by the passage of years. Often on a spring 
morning I have passed through Gray's Inn, by the lawns and 
mounds laid out by Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, where the 
rooks caw in the tall elms, and pigeons flutter about the 
gravelled squares ; and at nine at night the curfew is still 
rung. It is but a step across Holborn, past three or four 
shops down Chancery Lane, and a narrow footway gives 
entrance to Lincoln's Inn. Old Buildings have lost none of 
the picturesqueness given to this spot more than three centuries 
ago by the Tudor brick houses, and that substantial gateway on 
which, so tradition asserts, Ben Jonson worked as a brick- 
layer, with trowel in hand and a Horace in his pocket. By 
the green lawns and brightly-coloured flower-beds of New 
Square one reaches the Law Courts, and crossing Fleet Street 
enters the Temple. Much time may be spent in its courts 
and cloisters, and on by the historic Middle Temple Hall 
and the fountain playing in the sunshine, there is a path 
to the embankment and the river. 

It is quite a fair walk, by the Inns all the way, every yard 
of the ground traversed, every building passed, stored with 
legal associations, and may easily be extended by taking in 
the surviving smaller inns that lie immediately at the side — 
Staple Inn, Clement's Inn, Clifford's Inn, and Serjeants' Inn, 
Fleet Street ; for Old Serjeants Inn in Chancery Lane has gone 
as I write. Near to the heart of London, here is a route 
teeming with interest, which the thoughtless Londoner, who 
knows little of the treasures at his hand, rarely appreciates 
at its true value. I have gone thus shortly over the ground 
to fix attention upon this striking fact, that the whole of these 
legal settlements lie outside the walled city of London. 

That cannot be accidental : we know, indeed, that it is not : 
and it is additional evidence of what I have emphasised in 
previous chapters, and historians dealing with London as a 
unit have been apt to overlook — the cleavage that existed 
in the early mediaeval age between London within the walls, 
and its liberties, or suburbs, lying without. The gates closed 
the walled city within itself from sunset till sunrise, leaving the 
liberties unprotected. Into this exterior ring of the City 



74 FLEET STREET 

(Gray's Inn lies just beyond the bars) the lawyers came, and 
wherever settled, they have never admitted the jurisdiction 
of the Lord Mayor within the Inns of Court. 

" Of Law," says Hooker in a purple passage, " there can be 
no less acknowledged than that her seat is in the bosom of 
God ; her voice the harmony of the world ; all things in 
heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling 
her care, and the greatest as not exempted in her power." 
Others have sought elsewhere for the origin of the Law. At 
any rate, lawyers are heard of long before the foundation of the 
Inns of Court. That the first associations were within the 
walled city is beyond question. The Archbishop of Canterbury 
held his court at St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. There was a 
Cathedral school of St. Paul's. Conflict arose between the 
ecclesiastical lawyers and practitioners of the Common Law, 
and in the legal societies formed by these last the influence 
of the guild is clearly to be traced. The Inns of Court were in 
origin universities for the study of the law, and they developed 
by gradual process without assistance or interference either 
of the Crown or State. 

We have a definite date for the ejectment of the lawyers 
from the City in a writ addressed by King Henry the Third, 
in 1234, to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, directing them to 
cause proclamation to be made firmly forbidding that anyone 
should set up schools in the city for teaching the laws there. 
This presupposes schools of law already existing. Dr. Stubbs 
thought that the leges of the writ referred to the Canon Law, 
and that this was an endeavour by the King to support the 
Church. Pollock and Maitland disagree. Enough for my 
purpose is the fact of the writ, and that after a long interval — 
a century — the lawyers are found to have established themselves 
about the western suburb. 

The settlement of the lawyers would make a long story, 
and I can only indicate some few of the milestones ; then 
must tread warily, for much is uncertain. In part Henry's 
writ may have been accountable, and in perhaps a larger 
part the invitation of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, the great 
administrator and justiciar of the first and second Edwards. 
De Lacy, who has been already mentioned, acquired from the 
Dominican friars when they moved to the Thames-side (Black- 
friars) the first house established by them by Shoe Lane and 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 75 

Holborn, and there was a tradition in Dugdale's time that this 
powerful noble, " about the beginning of Edward the Second's 
reign, being a person well affected to the knowledge of the Laws, 
first brought in the professors of that honourable and necessary 
study to settle in this place." x 

It does not necessarily follow that De Lacy received the 
lawyers in his own house, nor can it be said that the Earl gave 
to them anything but his name and arms. These Lincoln's 
Inn still bears. Mr. Baildon, the learned editor of the " Black 
Books " of Lincoln's Inn, thinks it likely that the Earl settled 
the lawyers in John Thavy's house, within a stone's throw of 
his own door. Thavies Inn is to-day a short street off Holborn 
Circus. 

John Thavy (or Thavie), citizen and armourer, died in 1348. 
His will shows that his hospice had been frequented by students 
of the law, and further indicates that about that time the 
lawyers had ceased to use it. They migrated — somewhere. 
According to Dugdale, they moved from Thavy's to the 
Temple. Probably they founded there the society of the 
Inner Temple, which cannot have been later than the Middle 
Temple if the Inns were from the first separate. Mr. Baildon 
holds that a body of them, if not the whole, survived separately, 
and founded Lincoln's Inn. The fact is significant that in the 
year before John Thavy's death, namely, 1347, as shown by 
the Patent Rolls, the Knights Hospitallers first farmed the 
manor or place of the New Temple to professors and students 
of the law. 

But I must go back, for meanwhile much had happened. 
The Temple, wrested somewhat unwillingly by Edward the 
Second from its rightful owners, brought no good fortune 
to its next possessors. Heads fell : it was a habit of the time. 
Soon after the suppression of the Knights Templars, the King 
granted their estate in London to his near relative, Thomas 
Earl of Lancaster, a great noble marked out by birth and the 
inheritance of five earldoms as leader of the barons in their 
revolt against the misgovernment and disorder cast upon the 
country by the second Edward. His military incompetency 
and lack of initiative brought him to the block in 1322. The 
Temple in the same year passed to Aylmer de Valence, Earl 

Origines Juridiciales. 



76 FLEET STREET 

of Pembroke, who made it over to Hugh le Despenser the 
younger. Hugh le Despenser's sightless eyes stared down 
from London Bridge, where his head was hoisted on a pike, 
and again the property reverted to the Crown. 

Large abstractions by king and nobles had reduced the 
extent of the Templars' English possessions. What remained 
had all this time been granted by Bull of Clement V to the 
Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. Edward the 
Second cared little. His refusal at the outset to believe the 
extravagant charges made against the Templars stands to his 
credit. At length, by threat of excommunication and inter- 
dict, his hand was forced. A statute of 1324 purported to 
assign the property in England seized from the Templars to 
the Knights Hospitallers, but it was not until fourteen years 
later that entire possession was handed over to them. They 
having their own Priory of St. John's, Clerkenwell (the gate of 
which, rebuilt in 1504, still stands) leased the Inner and 
Middle Temples to the lawyers. The Outer Temple was not 
in the demise, having previously passed to Stapledon, Bishop 
of Exeter. 

The lawyers may have had a footing in the Temple as early 
as 1322, being tenants of Thomas Earl of Lancaster ; x this, at 
least, is certain, that the long association of the legal profession 
with the Temple has existed undisturbed for upwards of five 
and a half centuries. 

It would be profitless to raise again the vexed question 
whether the separate Inns of the Inner and Middle Temple 
were ever one. Mention was made in the last chapter of St. 
George's Inn in Seacoal Lane, by Fleet Ditch, one of the earliest 
of the London schools of law, and the parent of New Inn, St. 
Clement Danes. The Middle Temple bears upon its arms, with 
the Agnus Dei of the Knights Templars, the Cross of St. George. 
It is a possible theory — of no more merit than others — that in a 
migration of professors and students from St. George's Inn the 

1 An ancient manuscript formerly the property of Earl Somers, and 
afterwards of Nichols, the antiquary, sets out that " certain lawyers 
made composition with the Earl of Lancaster for a lodging in the 
Temple, and so came hither and have continued ever since." See a 
most valuable discussion of the whole subject of " Early Law Schools 
in London," by Dr. Hugh Bellot in The Law Magazine and Review, 
vol. 36, p. 257 et seq. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 77 

Middle Temple had its origin, and that they brought with them 
this armorial bearing, just as the descendants of Lacy Earl 
of Lincoln's retainers took his arms for their legal Inn. 

Lincoln's Inn has had two migrations. From De Lacy's 
or Thavy's house the lawyers and apprentices went probably 
in the first instance to Furnival's Inn, Holborn, and thereafter 
the society, or the greater part, moved between 1415 and 1422 
" into the still more roomy palace of the bishops of Chichester, 
in Chancery Lane, again taking with it its old name." When 
the records of Lincoln's Inn commence in the latter year, the 
Society was paying rent to the Bishop of Chichester for the 
still existing settlement. x 

Gray's Inn was held at the opening of the fourteenth century 
by Reginald de Grey, justiciar of Chester under Edward the 
First, and a member of the legal family of the Earls de Grey, 
by grant from the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. Again, we 
may see in this society the descendants of those persons 
learned in the laws of the realm with whom a great justiciar, 
keeping up a large establishment, would surround himself. 
The Earls de Grey have disappeared ; the lawyers remain 
upon the property. Of them it may be said with some point, 
fy suts, fy reste. 

There is an Inn of Chancery that was given over to the law 
before the lease of the Temple, and still survives, though in 
private ownership, as one of the most charming byways of 
Fleet Street. Clifford's Inn lies behind St. Dunstan's church, 
with entrances in Fleet Street and Fetter Lane. It was granted 
by King Edward the Second to Robert de Clifford in 1310, 
and was leased by Isabella, his widow, in 1344, to students of 
the law (apprenticii de Banco) at a rent of £10 a year. 

Old Serjeants' Inn, adjoining, was let to the members of 
that Order, the most venerable of the legal brotherhoods, in 
the year 1416, being then known as Faryngdon's Inn. They 
came from Scroope's Inn, Holborn. Serjeants' Inn in Fleet 
Street itself was of later origin. 

The lawyers have really made Chancery Lane, " the greatest 
legal thoroughfare in England " as Leigh Hunt finely called it. 
We who do not recognise that character in its present aspect 
must remember all the change that it has undergone. 

1 Baildon, Records of Lincoln's Inn, iv, 295. 



78 FLEET STREET 

That old hall of Lincoln's Inn seen through the great Tudor 
gateway in Chancery Lane — and much improved by last year's 
renovations — was originally the place wherein the Vice-Chan- 
cellor sat to determine suits in Chancery ; and there was heard 
the famous cause of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce — not, let me hasten 
to say, in the Law Reports, for citation is perilous. A barrister 
once ventured to quote a passage from Scripture. Said the 
judge from the bench, " I don't remember that case, Mr. 
Blank ! " The old hall is derelict, the last occasion of its use, 
after a long interval, having been the inquiry re the Marquis 
Townshend in 1906. Last century, built upon the same side 
of Chancery Lane, stood the office of the Six Clerks, in early 
times the only persons allowed to practise in Chancery, 1 
the Examiner's Office, the offices of the Masters in Chancery, 
and others ; and on the east side Old Serjeants' Inn, Symon's 
Inn, a place frequented by lawyers, the Rolls Chapel, the Great 
House of the Master of the Rolls, and the Cursitor's Office. 
Then the street was law from end to end. To-day all these, 
save Lincoln's Inn itself, have been swept away, and the 
dust of the law has gone with them. 

Likely enough, as was the case with so many other landmarks 
hereabouts, Chancery Lane had its origin in the Knights 
Templars, and was first a mere track used by them as a direct 
route of communication between the Old and the New Temples. 
In Edward the First's reign, before the Templars were crushed, 
it had become so foul and miry that John Breton, Custos of 
London, had the way barred up " to hinder any harm." But 
because an important building stood in this lane, where its 
successor still stands, I go back even beyond that, to a time 
when Ralph Nevill, Bishop of Chichester, was Chancellor to 
King Henry the Third, and had his hostel with grounds on 
both sides of Chancery Lane, then called New Street. Chiches- 
ter Rents and Bishop's Court, half way up the lane, recall 
the association to-day. 

1 The idea being that by restricting the number of practitioners in 
the various courts the growth of litigation would be checked, just as 
if by limiting the number of doctors a stop could be put on the increase 
of disease. The Six Clerks were soon overburdened, and in turn 
engaged Sworn Clerks, finally limited to sixty, whose privileged exaction 
of fees from suitors was one of the gross scandals of old Chancery 
procedure, until the whole body was swept away in 1842. A list of 
the Six Clerks since 1522 is preserved. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 79 

It was during this period the downfall occurred of 
Hubert de Burgh, the Chief Justiciar and once all-powerful 
minister, whose large estates included land in New Street. 
Ralph Nevill succeeded in 1232 to his influence with the 
monarch. King Henry the Third had a scheme of his own to 
serve, and having seized Hubert de Burgh's land, he granted 
it with other lands " to the house which the King has founded 
in the street called Newestret, between the Old Temple and the 
New Temple of London, for the support of the brethren con- 
verted, and to be converted, from Judaism to the Catholic 
Faith . . . saving the garden which the King has already 
granted to Ralph, Bishop of Cycester (Chichester) the 
Chancellor." 1 

This was the famous House of Converts in Chancery Lane, 
the chapel of which came to be known as the Rolls Chapel. 
An ancient structure, altered and rebuilt until not a particle 
of the mediaeval work was visible, within or without, the chapel 
survived until near the close of last century. For his soul's 
health, and for the souls of his ancestors and heirs, the King 
gave 700 marks for the sustenance of the converts, for making 
them a home, and for building them a church, this sum to be 
paid annually out of the Exchequer. 2 Apostate Jews flocked 
into Chancery Lane, to take lodging and livery, and tenpence 
halfpenny a week (women, eightpence). 

We have a drawing of the church which the converts built 
for themselves in Chancery Lane, of unusual interest, for 
probably it is the earliest drawing extant of any identified 
London building. Mathew Paris, in his Chronica Major a, duly 
records the institution of the House of Converts, and opposite 
the passage, on the margin of the manuscript preserved in 
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, which very likely is in his 
own hand, is sketched a coloured representation of this chapel 
as it existed between the year of its foundation and 1259, when 
the chronicler died. In the nave with three bays, square 
projecting turret, and short chancel with lancet windows, it 
corresponds with the Rolls Chapel destroyed six and a half 
centuries later, but the artist, anxious to show a bit of both 
sides of the building, has adopted an original method of 
perspective. 

1 Charter Rolls, 19th Henry III, Cal., p. 199. 
3 ibid., 16th Henry III, Cal., p. 143. 



80 



FLEET STREET 



The settlement grew rapidly, if certain instructions given to 
the King's Almoner for raiment, beginning with the year 
1255-6, afford indication of the number of inmates. He was 
to deliver cloth for 150 robes for the converts before Christmas ; 
in the next year 171 tunics for Easter and 164 for Pentecost ; 
and in the year following 150 tunics at the command of the 




From Midd. & Herts. Notes & Queries 

Mathew Paris's Drawing of the Converts' 
Chapel 



King and Queen, and twenty-one at the command of the Royal 
children. 1 It became necessary in 1265-75 to enlarge the 
buildings and lengthen the chapel, in which two (afterwards 
three) chaplains served. The converts had liberty to live 
within the house as they chose, and to work wherever their 
labour was required. In 1238 two converts were the King's 

1 Hardy, " Rolls House and Chapel," Midd. &> Herts. N. 6- Q. ii, 51. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 81 

bowmen. They were to have their daily necessaries provided 
in the Tower of London, that their task might not be hindered. 

As enthusiasm for the religious work diminished, the Ex- 
chequer grant came vicariously. From a petition of the year 
1272 it seems that the inmates were reduced to extreme 
straits, begging from door to door and almost perishing from 
Tiunger, because rich converts, who had other means of support, 
and did not live in the house, received the revenues which 
ought to have been assigned only to the poor converts dwelling 
therein. * 

No regulations have been found earlier than the 3rd June, 
1280. At that date King Edward the First addressed his 
beloved clerk, John de St. Denys, Keeper of his House of 
Converts in London, stating that both for the strengthening 
of the faith of those who had been converted from the blindness 
of Judaism to the light of Christianity, and for the winning of 
further converts, he had, by God's authority, been led to provide 
for the sustenance of the inmates of the House of Converts. 
Although the goods and chattels of Jews converted to the 
faith belonged " wholly and of right and custom " to himself, 
yet being willing to show to such persons some special favour, 
he then bestowed upon them, for the period of seven years, 
for their sustenance, a moiety of all their possessions, and all 
the chevage of the Jews of England. Inmates who showed 
proficiency were to be taught trades, that their charge upon the 
house might cease. 2 

Chevage was a head tax of threepence upon all the Jews of 
England, and from the payments to the House of Converts we 
gain an idea of their numbers in the thirteenth century — 
In 1280-1, 1,153 Jews paid chevage. 
In 1281-2, 1,135 „ 
In 1282-3, 1,151 „ „ 

The chevage was afterwards farmed for a settled sum, £11 
and £12, and this was duly paid to the converts, who enjoyed 
besides certain rent-charges, escheats, and other revenues. 
They were frequently sent out to collect the taxes from 
harassed co-religionists of the faith they had abandoned, after 
the sums had been assessed by the justices. 

1 Patent Roll, 56th Henry III, pt. 1, m. 10. 

a Hardy, Midd. cS< Herts. N. & Q., vol. 2, before cited. 

6— (2246) 



82 FLEET STREET 

There were more than eighty converts sheltered in the house 
when Edward the First, in 1290, expelled the Jews from his 
kingdom. 

This sweeping step did not empty the Domus Convtrsorum, 
as it was called. But its income fell off, and the settlement 
never regained its former strength. The inmates in the 
fourteenth century at no time exceeded thirteen. When the 
converts had been reduced to two, in 1377, Edward the Third 
in Parliament ordered that the house should remain for ever 
attached to the office of Custos Rotulorum, or Keeper of the 
Rolls ; * and so it came about that the care of the Jewish 
converts remained a burden — such as it was — to the Master of 
the Rolls for a much longer period than is popularly supposed. 
These varied in numbers thenceforward from two to seven or 
eight. Thomas Cromwell, King Henry the Eighth's powerful 
minister, when appointed Master of the Rolls, found three 
converts, all women, left to his charge. Cromwell lived a 
great deal in the Rolls, and his court there swarmed with 
litigants, so it is probable that he housed the women in some 
outbuilding. They received three-halfpence a day. 

The establishment survived in decay during Elizabeth's 
reign, but when the first of the Scottish monarchs came to 
England there was a speedy end to it. Payments cease alto- 
gether in the third year of King James the First. 2 Though 
one or two converts from Judaism petitioned that Sovereign 
for the benefit of the old foundation, they obtained no satis- 
faction. The chaplains, however, continued in their office, 
and the chapel remained in use for the celebration of divine 
service and the preservation of the records of Chancery, 
which were kept in presses on the floor and under the pew 
seats, while the Master of the Rolls went on drawing his allow- 
ance as Keeper of the House of Converts so recently as last 
century. The only surviving association is that the Master of 
the Rolls to this day is ex-officio trustee of the Society for the 
Conversion of the Jews — which raised a curious situation 



1 The association is much older than this. Out of nine persons who 
were keepers of the House of Converts between 1307 and 1377, no 
fewer than eight were also keepers of the Rolls of Chancery (57th 
Report, Deputy Keeper Public Records, App. p. 20). 

2 Hardy, Midd. & Herts. N. & Q., vol. 2, before cited. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 83 

when that eminent lawyer and Jew, Sir George Jessel, was 
appointed to the Rolls. 

Whatever of the ancient dwellings may have outlived the 
centuries was destroyed in 1717, when a new Rolls House was 
erected as a residence for the Master of the Rolls. Over the 
site of the Rolls House, Chapel, and gardens has been built the 
Public Record Office, that vast repository wherein is stored 
the history of England from the Norman Conquest in original 
documents. 

King Henry the Third was so enamoured of his plan for 
Christianising Jews, that in 1236-7 he persuaded Richard de 
Barking, then Abbot of Westminster, to surrender to him St. 
Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street, with its fruits and profits, 
that he might annex it to his new house. x A consequence of 
this bit of niching is seen to-day in the different manner of 
presentation to the two Fleet Street churches. While the gift 
of St. Bride's remains with the Abbot's successors, the Dean and 
Chapter of Westminster, the advowson of St. Dunstan's has 
passed through a dozen different hands, and is now vested in 
the Simeon Trustees. 2 

The chancellor from whom the street derives its name 
(" Chauncellereslane " in 1339) I take to have been Ralph 
Nevill ; though a successor it was who kept up the bar 
for ten years, until there were loud complaints, and he was 
prescribed at an inquest for setting up two staples and a bar, 
whereby men and carts could not pass. The Sheriff removed 
the obstruction. And before the street became Chancellor's 
Lane, as early as 1262, a ditch called Chancellor's Ditch is 
mentioned as separating Nevill's land from adjoining property. 8 
Chancery Lane, the present style, is an abbreviation, introduced 
in Queen Elizabeth's reign. 4 

The lawyers must be acquitted of all responsibility for 
Fetter Lane, " so called," says Stow, " of Fewters (or idle 



1 Patent Roll, 20th Henry III. Cal., pt. 1, p. 178. 

a See Appendix. 

* " Chaunceleresdich." Chart. Convent of Malmesbury, Cotton 
MS., quoted in Memorials of Old London. Ed. Ditchfield. 

4 In the register of wardmote inquests St. Dunstan's West, in the 
early years of Elizabeth, " Chauncelor Lane " and " Chauncery Lane " 
are used indifferently ; in the later years the latter style has become 
fixed. 



84 FLEET STREET 

people) lying there, as in a way leading to gardens." The law 
was not idle. And Stow is right, though his derivation has 
been attacked, and various others have been proposed. 
Mr. Loftie advanced the ingenious suggestion that the name 
is due to fewters or fetters (the rests for a spear) made here 
by armourers, but that is held to be untenable. Of course, 
it has nothing whatever to do with Newgate fetters. 

Mr. Kingsford, in his edition of Stow's Survey, holds that 
Fetter Lane is probably the Viter lane without Newgate 
which occurs in 1294 and 1299 in the Husting wills. Faiteres- 
lane appears in 1312, the new lane called Faitur lane in 1352, 
and various other forms in the fourteenth and fifteenth cen- 
turies. Faitour, faytor, or fayter, means an impostor, a 
cheat, especially a vagrant, who shams illness or pretends to 
tell fortunes. This was a way leading to gardens as late as 
Elizabeth, and such persons, no doubt, infested the suburb, 
as the wise women and fortune-tellers of Stow's own time did 
the north-eastern suburbs of Hoxton and Shoreditch. 

The middle fourteenth century saw the legal Inns firmly 
established in the western suburb, and there they have 
remained ever since. In the absence of original documents it 
is difficult to say exactly what were their functions. Both the 
Inner and Middle Temple records begin in the last year of King 
Henry the Seventh, and Gray's Inn in the first years of Eliza- 
beth. The earliest records are the " Black Books " of Lincoln's 
Inn, dating from the first year of Henry the Sixth, which 
contain much information as to the early buildings undertaken 
by that society, and details of innumerable matters connected 
with the management, customs, and history of that Inn. It 
would appear, however, that the smaller Inns of Chancery 
played the part of probationary houses, serving the Inns 
of Court with students. The practising attorney frequented 
St. Paul's Cathedral, consulting with clients in its spacious 
portico, like Chaucer's Serjeant-at-law — 

wary and wise, 
That often had been at the Porvis, 

and in later years the Round of the Temple Church was a 
customary place for transaction of leagl business. 

London was never short of lawyers. Chief Justice Fortescue, 
writing in the sixth year of King Henry the Sixth, declares that 
the four Inns of Court — Inner and Middle Temple, Lincoln's, 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 85 

and Gray's — each contained as many as 200 persons, and 1,000 
more were scattered about the ten Inns of Chancery. He says 
that a student of the larger Inns, exclusive of the cost of a ser- 
vant, which he considers almost a necessity, could not well 
maintain himself there under £28 a year, a sum equivalent 
to about £400 of our money. In the Inns of Chancery the 
requirements were less onerous, and those who, from want of 
dignity or insufficient means, chose to begin there, after a term 
of residence and course of study might enter an Inn of Court at 
reduced fees. x 

Intimate letters of the time of the Wars of the Roses are so 
rare that any reader unfamiliar with the Paston Letters will 
condone a digression that shall introduce this delightful and 
wholly unaffected missive, written in 1444 by Dame Agnes 
Paston, widow of the " Good Judge," Sir William Paston, to her 
lawyer son in London — 

To John Paston, dwelling in the Temple at London, be 
this letter delivered in haste. 

I greet you well, and let you weet, that on the Sunday before St. 
Edmund, after evensong, Agnes Ball came to me to my closet, and bade 
me good even, and Clement Spicer with her ; and I asked him what he 
would. And he asked me why I had stopped in the king's way ; and 
I said to him I stopped in no way but mine own, and asked him why 
he had sold my land to John Ball and he swore he was never accorded 
with your father, and I told him if his father had done as he did, he 
would have been ashamed to have said as he said ; and all that time 
Waryn Herman leaned over the park close and listened to what we said, 
and said that the change was a rewly change, for the town was undo 
thereby, and is the worse by a hundred pounds. And I told him it 
was no courtesy to meddle him in a matter but if he were called to 
council ; and proudly going forth with me in the church, he said the 
stopping of the way should cost me twenty nobles and yet it should be 
down again. And I let him weet, he that put it down should pay 
therefor. 

Also he said that it was well done that I set men to work to owl 
many while I was here, but in the end I should lose my cost. Then 
he asked me why I had (taken) away his hay at Walsham, saying to 
me he would he had wist it, when it was carried, and he should a letted 
it ; and I told him it was mine own ground, and for mine own I would 
hold it ; and he bade me take four acres and go no further, and thus 



1 De Laudibus Legum Angliae. Sir Edward Coke's estimate, about 
1602, is somewhat less : forty students or thereabouts in each of eight 
Inns of Chancery, and 260 members of each of the four Inns of Court, 
with " above twenty " judges and Serjeants. 



86 FLEET STREET 

churtly he departed from me in the churchyard ; and since I spake with 
a certain man, and asked him if he heard ought say why the dinner 
was made at Norfolk's house, and he told me (he) heard say that certain 
men had sent to London to get a commission out of Chancery to pull 
down again the wall and the dyke. 

I received your letter by Robert Repps this day, after this letter 
(was) written thus far. I have read it, but I can give you none answer 
more than I have written, save the wife of Harman hath the name of 
our Lady, whose blessing ye have and mine. Written at Paston, on 
the day after St. Edmond. 

By your mother, 

Agnes Paston. 

A younger brother, Edmund Paston, was a student of 
Clifford's Inn. John Paston was a member of the Inner 
Temple. His estates after his inheritance were seized by the 
Yorkists, and himself thrown into the Fleet Prison. 

Accepting Chief Justice Fortescue's census of 500 persons 
in the Temple and Clifford's Inn, with the Serjeants apart, and 
near at hand Lincoln's Inn with another 200, it is evident 
that the lawyers formed a considerable proportion of Fleet 
Street's population in the Middle Ages. Not much is known 
of their daily life and studies, but some light is thrown upon 
these matters by the ancient rules of the Honourable Society 
of Clifford's Inn, which was dissolved so recently as 1902. 
These rules have been preserved, and date, in part at least, 
from the time of Edward the Fourth, having been copied in the 
reign of Henry the Seventh, and newly transcribed in the 
twentieth year of Henry the Eighth, and they are of great 
interest. x 

Law shall be the sole mistress. No member shall be 
allowed to employ himself in any other trade or business, 
" notwithstanding the same be honest." 

Every common pensioner of the Inn " shall be obliged in his 
turn to carry on all manner of learning in the same Inn that 
appertains to an Inner Barrister . . . and every member afore- 
said that shall be of the Society of the said Inn . . . shall likewise 
be obliged in his turn to carry on all manner of erudition or 
learning of the said Inn that appertains to an Outer Barrister." 
Fines of a farthing, half-penny, or penny punished absence by 
common pensioners from reading upon a writ, lecture, or moot. 



1 I am indebted for these rules to Dr. Philip Norman's paper on 
Clifford's Inn (The Burlington Magazine, vol. 1). The original MS. 
rules are in Inner Temple Library. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 87 

A large part of the rules is taken up by regulations for 
keeping order within the Inn. The steward is directed to shut 
the gates at nine o'clock. Dinner time during vacation is at 
" eleven of the clock," in term at noon, and in summer always 
at six Rule 14 ordains that any member striking another 
" with his fist, cudgel, knife, dagger, or other weapon, without 
effusion of blood, shall pay for every such offence twelve 
pence and shall make amends ; but if he strikes to the effusion 
of blood he shall make amends to the party at the discretion 
of the Principal, and shall pay to the Society six shillings 
and eight pence, and repeating such behaviour shall be expelled 
and put out of the Inn." 

Fine is also fixed for any member who shall persuade or 
compel another to sally forth from the Inn for purposes of 
revenge. 

None shall break into the buttery, or through the gates after 
they have been shut, or disgrace the Inn by bringing to or 
concealing therein any common woman. Nor shall a member 
" receive, keep, or bring into the Inn any dog called a grey- 
hound, grey bitch, spaniel, or mastiff " ; nor play at or keep 
" any dice, cards, tables, piquet, or any ridiculous amusements 
in met alls, coites, or other unlawful game, within the same 
Inn or without, privately or openly, at any times or time, or 
in the time of Christmas or Candlemas, without the consent of 
the Principal and the whole of the Council." 

No doubt such penal rules were highly necessary. The 
studious lawyers, poring over deeds or discussing some knotty 
point of law at the moots, is one side of the picture. They 
were given to varying the monotony of their studies by a good 
deal of wild work, and often in the records which portray 
the life of the Middle Ages with such realism there stands 
out a mob of armed and turbulent young students surg- 
ing down Fleet Street, eager to provoke and always ready 
to take a leading part in the rioting which disturbed its 
peace. 

The gentle Chaucer himself has been credited with a share 
in the students' riots, for there is a well-preserved tradition 
that he was fined 2s. by the benchers of the Inner Temple for 
beating a saucy Franciscan friar in Fleet Street. There is 
nothing in his life, however, to show that he was ever a member 
of the Inn, though so keen a Londoner must have known the 



88 FLEET STREET 

Temple well. In the " Canterbury Tales " he speaks of its 
manciple (or purveyor) and his thirty masters — 

Of maistres hadde he mo than thryes ten 
That were of lawe expert and curious, 
Of which ther wer a doseyn in that nous, 
Worthy to been stiwardes of rente and lond, 
Of any lord that is in Engelond. 

I fear the Chaucer tradition cannot be substantiated. It 
rests upon nothing better than a statement by Speght, prefixed 
to the 1598 black-letter folio of Chaucer's Life : "It seemeth 
that both of these learned men (Gower and Chaucer) were of the 
Inner Temple ; for not many years since Master Buckley 
did see a record in the same house where Geoffrey Chaucer was 
fined 2s. for beating a Franciscan friar in Fleet Street." 
Chaucer (old French " shoe-maker ") was a common name 
in the fourteenth century. 

Fabyan's Chronicle records in August, 1441, " a great affray 
in Fletestrete atweene ye getters of the Innys of Court and the 
inhabytauntes of the same strete." It began in the night, 
continued next day, and was not subdued until much injury 
had been done, and the Mayor and Sheriffs had appeared to 
restore order. The " chief occasioner " of this fray was " a 
man of Clyfford's Inn named Herbottell." 

Yet more serious was another encounter on April 13th, 1458, 
when the law students and the townsmen fought a battle 
royal. The students were driven by archers from the conduit 
in Fleet Street opposite Shoe Lane back to the Inns, and some 
slain, and in this desperate melee the Queen's Attorney was 
killed. Stern reprisals followed. King Henry the Sixth 
committed the principal governors of Clifford's Inn, Furnival's 
Inn, and Barnard's Inn to the Castle at Hertford, and William 
Tailor, alderman of Farringdon Ward, with many others, was 
sent to Windsor. 

Wat Tyler's raid in 1381 deeply scored the surface of Fleet 
Street, leaving scars which the succeeding century did not 
entirely efface. The vengeance of the rebels fell with especial 
severity upon the lawyers. Thomas of Walsingham may be 
right in his story that Tyler demanded of Richard the Second a 
commission for himself and his men to behead all lawyers, 
escheators, and everyone connected with the law. It seems 
likely. By the common people they were regarded with a 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 89 

consuming hate, as the instruments of all their woes ; and it 
was the rebels' determination, Stow relates, " to burn all 
Court-rolls and old muniments, that the memory of antiquities 
being taken away, their lords should not be able to challenge 
any right on them from that time forth." Tyler's boast that 
within four days all the laws of England should proceed from 
his mouth was an invitation to the ignorant masses who came 
behind him to destroy both the parchments which they looked 
upon as the cause of their oppression and those who produced 
them. 

It is probable that the lawyers fled from the Temple and their 
Inns, being discreet men, when the rabble, mad for blood, 
came surging up Fleet Street with defiant shouts of " To the 
Savoy ! to the Savoy ! " At all events, nothing is heard of a 
general massacre, though their property was pillaged and fired, 
without any attempt on their part to defend it, so far as the 
chroniclers relate. No doubt a stray attorney or two was 
picked up here and there, and death came swiftly. The 
insurgents " took in hand," so Stow tell us, " to behead all men 
of law, as well apprentices as utter-barristers and old justices, 
with all the jurors of the country whom they might get into 
their hands ; they spared none whom they thought to be 
learned ; especially if they found any to have pen and ink 
they pulled off his hood, and all with one voice crying, ' Hale 
him out and cut off his head ! ' " 

Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster, was a chief 
object of revenge when the rebels, having gained entrance by 
treachery at Aldgate and London Bridge, poured through the 
City, intent on sacking his riverside palace at the Savoy. But 
there were others on the route. Flames rose behind them from 
Clerkenwell Priory, which had been set on fire. The Fleet 
Prison and Newgate were attacked and broken open, and 
hordes of rascality were added to those already contributed 
by the Marshalsea. Men became drunk with wine from 
the plundered taverns, and gross outrages on life and property, 
which went on unchecked, marked the utter paralysis of the 
constituted authorities. 

" Hardly was there a street in the City in which there were 
not bodies lying of those who had been slain," says a short 
contemporary account of the insurrection preserved in the 
City's archives. 



90 FLEET STREET 

We gain an idea of how those on the line of invasion suffered 
from the proceedings at the Savoy Palace. John of Gaunt 
fled, and a learned father, who had been his friend and adviser, 
was seized and torn to pieces as a substitute for his patron. 
This was, perhaps, the most luxurious dwelling-house in 
England, stored with treasure of every known kind, jewels and 
plate, books and charters. Its walls were broken down by the 
mob and the contents flung out and battered into fragments, 
tapestries rent to tatters, and what physical violence failed 
to effect was left to the flames to accomplish. For upwards 
of a hundred years thereafter the palace stood a heap of 
blackened ruins. Unfortunately for themselves, thirty-two 
of the rebels found their way to the wine cellars, " where they 
drank so much of sweet wines that they were not able to come 
out in time, but were shut in with wood and stones that mured 
up the door, where they were heard crying and calling seven 
days after, but none came to help them out till they were 
dead." Amid all the attendant horrors of the Peasants' 
Revolt, nothing is more ghastly than the fate of these poor 
wretches, immured in their living tomb. 

Along Fleet Street the path of the rabble was marked by 
devastation. The Fleet Prison was burnt. As they burst 
into the spacious precinct of the Temple they spread them- 
selves about for wholesale destruction, and that day (Tuesday, 
13th June, 1381) work was done which succeeding generations 
of lawyers and antiquaries have had good cause to regret. The 
tale of disaster is told in a manuscript written in old French, 
formerly in the Abbey of St. Mary, Durham, where its author 
was then resident — 

The rebels went to the Temple and threw down the houses to the 
ground, and stripping roofs took away the tiles, so that they left them 
in disorder. And they went to the church and plundered all the books 
and rolls and remembrances that were in their cases in the Temple of 
the apprentices of the law, and carried them to the great fire-place 
(le haul chimene) and burnt them. x 

This is brief, but lacks nothing in completeness. Walsing- 
ham also mentions the burning of the Temple papers by the 
insurgents. In the smoke issuing out of the haut chimene 



1 Quoted by Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales. This passage has been 
almost invariably mistranslated " carried them into the streets and 
burnt them," following an error by Stow, 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 91 

no doubt there perished the earliest records of the Inns, leaving 
a gap in the law's history that can never be filled. Much 
would be given to-day for a sight of those rolls which the 
Kentishmen so easily reduced to blackened fragments of carbon. 
Long after their leader, mortally stricken by Mayor Walworth, 
had been carried into St. Bartholomew's Hospital in Smithfield, 
to die on the Master's bed, the memory of the raid was kept 
in the public mind, a representation of the head of Wat Tyler, 
borne on a spear by a man in armour, being a popular feature 
of the Lord Mayor's pageants so late as 1616. 

More was done on that eventful day. In the fires lighted 
by the Kentish rebels two forges that had stood on either 
side of St. Dunstan's Church disappeared. The forges have a 
curious history. They originally belonged to the Knights 
Templars. One at least must have been at or near Ficket's 
Croft, the jousting place of the Knights Templars beyond the 
city and in the shire, and no doubt was kept busily employed 
for shoeing horses and riveting mail. They passed with 
other property of the Templars into possession of the Knights 
Hospitallers in 1324. 

The new Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, returning after 
Wat Tyler's mob had passed, found his forges burnt to ashes. 
They could not be repaired " owing to the damage of the said 
street." But the rent of 15s. paid for them continued to be 
exacted, and two years later he petitioned for its remission. It 
was for many years respited. A century went by, and then 
the King took the land into his own hands, and it came by this 
circuitous route into ultimate possession of the City, being 
thrown into the street. x 

Larger in scope, and not less wanton, was another piece of 
destruction in Fleet Street that has been attributed, though 
perhaps falsely, to Wat Tyler's band. It has been known only 
of recent years that the Carmelite Friars had a house in Fleet 
Street by Temple Bar, in addition to their principal settlement 
at Whitefriars. There had long been reputed to be some 
curious stonework in cellars in use by the famous Devil Tavern, 
where old Simon Wadloe kept his rare wines. Portions of 
these, in the beginning of last century, were built into the new 
strong-rooms of Child's Bank, then extended over the site. 

1 Rot. Pari, iii, 179. Patent Roll, 24th Henry VI, Cal., pt. 2, p. 447. 



92 FLEET STREET 

Temple Bar came down in 1879, and Child's Bank, being 
entirely rebuilt, these underground structures were uncovered. 
They proved to be part of a late thirteenth or fourteenth 
century vaulted building, with pointed arches, carried by a row 
of stone pillars. 

The explorations brought to light a floor of tiles, coated 
with green and yellow glaze, an ancient well, and cesspools 
near by. l The vault itself had a stout central pier of stone, 
from which four stone arches sprang. On the four sides of the 
chamber the arches rested upon a wall composed of blocks of 
chalk, in places 6£ feet thick. 

It was the opinion of architects and antiquaries who visited 
the excavations that the vault had carried a large ecclesiastical 
building or gatehouse. The land can be traced to the Carmel- 
ites, having been seized by Henry the Eighth on the dissolution 
of the religious houses as part of their possessions, 2 but it then 
supported only a few dwellings of no importance. The mystery 
is this. An inch or two above the original floor were layers 
of cinders and fragments of charred wood, and these extended 
beyond the vault, over the whole of the wide area laid open. 
The central pier was itself burnt by intense heat Obviously 
the whole structure had been destroyed by fire. 

The late Mr. F. G. Hilton Price, F.S.A., the historian of 
Child's Bank and a most industrious antiquary, made diligent 
search, but was unable to find any record of an early building 
standing on the site. I have not been more fortunate. The 
theory is that the Carmelites put a house there, that it was 
burnt to the ground by Wat Tyler's mob when they were firing 
the places around, and that the friars never rebuilt, having 
already, as will be shown in the next chapter, largely developed 
their estate at Whitefriars. John Norden says that Temple 
Bar was " thrown down." More to the point than this late 
testimony is the contemporary statement of the Chrontcon 

1 Various articles of great antiquarian interest discovered in the 
excavations included a jug of cream-coloured pottery, with green 
glazed top, of the usual fourteenth century type ; a pipkin of somewhat 
later date ; and the earliest relic of all, a copper cauldron, or cooking 
pot, resting on three short legs, of the type of copper vessels of the time 
of King John (found under the chalk wall). These are figured in 
the late Mr. F. G. Hilton Price's " The Marygold by Temple Bar." 

3 Ministers' Accounts 31 and 32 Henry VIII, roll 112, m 57. 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 93 

Anglice, 1328-1388 (Rolls Series) that in the passage of the 
mob Temple Bar was " burnt." * In my belief, the attack of 
Wat Tyler's rebels was directed, not upon the Carmelites, 
but upon a gatehouse prison, and Temple Bar was an actual 
gateway at a much earlier date than is popularly supposed. 

The rebels displayed no enmity towards the friars. As 
distinct from the monks, they appear still to have enjoyed 
regard as friends of the poor. It is of much significance that 
the mob, mad for blood and destruction, in its rush up Fleet 
Street left the White Friars' settlement unharmed. 

Temple Bar came down in 1879, and interest has lapsed. 
Since then the unrivalled collection of over 4,000 citizens' 
wills enrolled in the Guildhall archives has been calendared 
by Dr. Reginald Sharpe, and they throw a novel and quite 
unexpected light on the subject. 

The customary use of a city's gate as a prison is well known. 
Newgate survived as a gaol long after the gate itself had been 
demolished. Ludgate was so used. The old gatehouse of 
the Westminster Abbey precinct previous to the Reformation 
had two chambers, one of which became the Bishop of London's 
prison for convicted clergy and Roman Catholic recusants, 
while the other obtained evil notoriety as the public gaol of 
Westminster. It was in Westminster Gatehouse that Richard 
Lovelace, the Cavalier poet, whose burial place was believed 
to be old St. Bride's Church, wrote that most exquisite of 
English lyrics, " To Althea, from prison." 

A provision for the benefit of prisoners was held to be a 
pious disposition of wealth, and the citizens' wills contain 
dozens of such. Dying in the year 1351, Walder de Mourdon, 
stockfishmonger, left bequests to churches, friars, hospitals, 
and " to the poor prisoners of Newgate and in the prison at 
Templebarre and the prison of Flete." 2 Adam de la Pole, 
also a stockfishmonger, in 1358 left bequests " to the prisoners 
in Newgate, Templebarre, and the Flete." 3 There was, then, 
a prison at Temple Bar, and that is the explanation of the rebels 
having burnt or " thrown down " the bar, which otherwise 
would have been a purposeless piece of work. Dr. Reginald 



1 Incenduntur Templum-barre et domus Hospitalis. 

2 Husting Wills, i, 653. 
* ibid., ii, 3. 



94 FLEET STREET 

Sharpe tells me that he recalls no mention of this prison in 
the City records after the fourteenth century. The gaol 
being there gives strong presumption of an actual gateway at 
Temple Bar as early as the reign of Edward the Third. 

The origin of Temple Bar remains obscure. So much 
uncertainty has prevailed about its date, that when in 1909 
an addition was made to the Mansion House plate in com- 
memoration of the Mayoralty of Sir William Treloar, alderman 
of the ward of Farringdon Without, the piece bore a representa- 
tion of the last Temple Bar, with the inscription " First 
mentioned 1301 ; Taken down 1879." 

That is clearly wrong, for the bar is older. On the Patent 
Roll for 1293, the twenty-first year of Edward the First, is a 
licence for the alienation in mortmain by Henry le Waleys, to 
the abbot and convent of Cumbe, of a messuage in the parish 
of St. Clement Danes, " without the Bar of the New Temple, 
London " — extra Barram Novi Templi, London — and of a 
messuage in the parish of St. Mary, Strand. Mr. Loftie has 
indicated [Memorials of the Savoy) a time when Temple Bar 
was not. In the original grant to Peter of Savoy in 1246, 
his land is described as lying outside the walls of London. 
In all subsequent documents the land is described as lying 
outside the Temple Barrs. 

So the first appearance of this long familiar feature of Fleet 
Street was between 1246 and the end of the thirteenth century. 
It was probably part of the system of defences completed under 
King Edward the First, and is traditionally said to have 
consisted at the outset of posts and chains. 

In preparing the ground for the existing premises of Child's 
Bank in 1879, it was found necessary to underpin the last 
house on the west side of Middle Temple Lane. When 
so engaged, the workmen came upon a quantity of human 
bones, disposed in five regular rows — presumably those 
of friars. They had to cut through the layer, and removed 
more than a cart-load of leg bones. The other portions of 
the skeletons were left untouched. Rarely can I pass 
through Middle Temple gate without a thought strikes up 
of those rows of legless men lying there beneath the porter's 
lodge. 

I recall in this place a quaint ceremony that is still observed 
each year in the Law Courts. When the Judges sat at 



p 



II I 



•■■u^ -0- 




TEMPLE BAR IN THE COWDRAY PICTURE 
Edward VI's Coronation Procession 



LAWYERS IN THE STREET 95 

Westminster, and the Sheriffs went after election to be pre- 
sented to the Barons of the Exchequer, and the retiring Sheriffs 
to render their accounts, they paid a service, or quit-rent, of six 
horse-shoes and " sixty-one nails, good number " for the rent 
of " the forge in the parish of St. Clement Danes in the county 
of Middlesex." The King's Remembrancer sat with the Barons, 
and enjoyed the right of wearing his hat in court — a right 
which is still kept alive by his placing a three-cornered hat on 
the top of his wig when the Lord Mayor attends the Law Courts 
on the 9th November, to receive from the Lord Chief Justice 
the Sovereign's approval of his election. 

Nobody knows the site of this particular forge, but record of 
the strange service can be traced back to the 19th Henry 
the Third. Walter le Brun, farrier, at the Strand, in Middlesex, 
was then to have a piece of ground in the parish of St. Clement 
Danes to place a forge there, rendering annually six horse- 
shoes. x It is supposed to have been by Milford Lane. The 
tradition runs that a travelling farrier had established himself 
near Ficket's Croft, so as to be at hand to replace the shoes 
of horses that might have become dislodged in the Templars' 
jousts, or to repair the knights' armour. His dexterity came 
under notice of the King, who granted him the plot of land 
on which his shed stood. The land passed into possession of 
the City of London, which since the 22 and 23 Vict., ch. 21, 
when the office of Cursitor Baron was abolished, has rendered 
the quit-rent to the King's Remembrancer alone by the City 
Solicitor, who each year attends upon that official for the 
purpose. 

The service is of great antiquity, probably much earlier 
than this particular instance of its rendering. There is a 
record of the payment of horse-shoes for this same piece of 
ground by Walter the farrier in the first year of King Edward 
the First, " at the Stone Cross " (ad crucem lapideam). 2 The 
site whereon the stone cross was raised can be identified as in 
the Strand, in front of Somerset House, near where the maypole 
afterwards stood ; and the association recalls a remote time 
when the district beyond the City's liberties was wholly rural, 
and the justices itinerant sat in the open air at the place of 

1 Mag. Rot. 19th Henry III, Lond. & Midd., m. 2, b. 

* Madox, History and Antiquities of the Exchequer, 1769, p. 100. 



96 FLEET STREET 

assembly of the community, like the Cadi under the date 
tree. x 

On the last occasion on which I witnessed the ceremonial, it 
took place in a temporary court within the Royal Courts of 
Justice at Temple Bar. The six horse-shoes are of great 
interest, for they are known to be the identical shoes with which 
the quit-rent has been paid for five centuries or more. I am 
indebted to the kindness of Sir James Mellor, late King's 
Remembrancer, for permission given to photograph them. As 
wiD be seen, they are of unusual size and strength, fitted for the 
enormous Flemish horses which carried the knight and his 
heavy burden of armour. Each is pierced with holes for ten 
nails — hence the sixty and one. It has been said that the 
animals were trained to strike in the mel£e with the fore-feet, 
and were, therefore, heavily shod only on those feet — a state- 
ment which seems to receive corroboration from the fact 
that these ancient forgings are all forefeet shoes. They have 
always been kept for safe custody in the King's Remembrancer's 
office, and his Majesty permits their use by the City each year 
for this payment. 

Warrants having been read, the summons went out, " Ten- 
ants and occupiers of a certain tenement called ' The Forge,' 
in the parish of St. Clement Danes, in the county of Middlesex, 
come forth and do your service." The City Solicitor, Sir 
Homewood Crawford, advanced to the table, and lifting each 
horse-shoe in turn, counted aloud the six. Then taking the 
nails, he placed them in little piles of ten, the count being 
checked, and held up the odd nail, with the words, " and one." 
These being found " good number," the rent was duly accepted 
on behalf of the Sovereign. Master Mellor, in gown and full- 
bottomed wig, a tall and commanding figure, maintained the 
dignity befitting the historic ceremonial, quaint as it seemed 
to modern onlookers — an incident linking these hurrying days 
with a long dead past. 

1 See Sir L. Gomme, The Governance of London, p. 197. 



CHAPTER V 

WHITE FRIARS 

The citye of London that is to me so dere and sweete, in which I was 
forth growen ; and more kindely love have I to that place than to 
any other in yerth. — Geoffrey Chaucer. 

No capital city in the world is so well provided with authentic 
historical documents as this famous old city of London. 

Some I have already drawn upon. Others are taken here 
to illustrate the conditions of Fleet Street in the late fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries. 

There were friars in the street who played a large part 
in its life. About the year 1241 the Carmelites settled upon 
that area of the Thames bank which is still known as White- 
friars, but for their origin one must go farther back — take a 
leap, indeed, into the remotest antiquity if their original 
pretensions are to be accepted. They came from Mount 
Carmel, that magnificent height, pierced with many caves, 
which juts boldly from the coast line of Palestine, closing in 
the Bay of Acre on the south, and from its sea-washed pro- 
montory rises 1,700 feet above the Mediterranean. It is holy 
ground, made famous as the scene of the contest between the 
Prophet Elias and the priests of Baal. 

Now the Sons of the Prophets, established by the Prophet 
Samuel, acknowledged Elias, and after him his disciple Eliseus, 
as their superior, and the Carmelites laid claim to be the moral, 
if not exactly the lineal, descendants of their line. That alone 
would be a considerable aristocracy. But the appetite for 
ancestry feeds upon the desire, and the more eager souls 
included Enoch also among their forbears — the name, it will 
be recalled, of a patriarch who flourished before the Flood. I 
am aware that among the brethren were those who asserted 
him to be not that Enoch who was taken from among men, 
but another Enoch of Amathim, a disciple of St. Mark the 
Evangelist. 

A vast deal of ink was spilt upon the whole controversy, 

and disquisitions in good Latin were poured out in extraordinary 

numbers from the fourteenth till near the end of the seventeenth 

centuries, by the Carmelites' own champions and their rivals, 

7-H2246) 97 



98 FLEET STREET 

until there arose a Pope with a firm grasp of affairs. He did 
not give judgment. Instead, he imposed silence upon the 
contestants of both sides, and in that silence the matter has 
since rested. The point is subtle ; but much may be said for 
the good father who thus argued : " Holy Scripture does not 
take notice that God commanded Noah to take any Carmelite 
into the Ark, and if any of the sons of Noah had been a Carmel- 
ite, he could not have taken the vow of chastity ; since all 
Noah's sons went into the Ark with their wives, and after 
coming out of the Ark they all of them had several children." 

The prosaic fact is that historically the Brothers of St. Mary 
of Mount Carmel can be traced only from the Crusades. They 
were anchorites, living separately in dens and caves, until 
Almeric, Bishop of Antioch and Legate from Rome, is said to 
have brought them together and laid the foundations of their 
convent on Mount Carmel in 1121. The Carmelites suffered 
much tribulation and many hard blows, not only from the 
Saracen swordsmen, who drove them out of Palestine, but from 
the religious among their own contemporaries. Approval of 
the Order was not obtained from the Fourth Lateran Council 
in 1215. Moreover, the austerity of the rule, which was chiefly 
that of Saint Basil, caused discontent among the younger men, 
many of whom had taken the vows when at the theological 
schools. 

In this sorry plight, St. Simon Stock, their Grand Prior, 
addressed himself to the Virgin. The legend of St. Simon 
Stock has grown upon an historic basis. A Kentish boy, and 
a visionary, when but twelve years of age he went into the 
woods, and there fed on roots and wild fruit, living an anchorite 
for twenty years in the trunk, or stock, of a hollow tree — hence 
the surname of Stock, as another Simon, Stylites, was so- 
called because constantly living about a stone pillar. In a 
revelation he learnt that men should come out of Syria to con- 
firm his order, and when the Carmelites arrived in England he 
held his revelation to be fulfilled, hastened to join them, and 
became their first English General, dying after a life of great 
sanctity at the age of over one hundred years. The legend is 
not all borne out by the little known history of the saint. 

St. Simon Stock laid his petition before the Virgin, asking 
her protection against the attacks of the secular clergy, and 
for a privilege that might reassure some discouraged brethren. 



WHITE FRIARS 99 

Our Lady appeared to him on the 16th July, 1262, and promised 
among other things, that " Whosoever dies in the Carmelite 
habit shall not suffer everlasting fire." 

The torments of hell being ever present as a dread reality, 
this privilege was rightly judged to be of rare value. It did 
not apply solely to those who had taken the full vows of the 
Order, and thus it became a source of strength to the friars in 
the performance of their pious work of winning souls and 
relieving the poor and afflicted of London. The adoption of the 
brown scapular can be directly traced to the Virgin's promise, 
and since this could be worn without inconvenience, and in a 
small form, it came to be regarded as the essential part of the 
Carmelite habit, to which the pledge was exclusively attached. 
The Carmelites were commonly known as the White Friars, 
as has frequently been said, from their dress, and gave that 
name to the district they inhabitated. The habit was not 
white, but brown. But over this a long white mantle with 
hood, falling below the knees, was worn in church and when the 
brothers appeared in public. 

Another favour from the Virgin made happy the lot of the 
devout Carmelite. Our Lady appeared to John XXII shortly 
before his election to the Papacy, promising that those who not 
only assumed the Carmelite habit, but also fulfilled certain 
conditions, should not remain in Purgatory beyond the first 
Saturday after death. 

After many wanderings the brothers arrived in England, 
and founded their first house at Aylesford, in Kent, in 1241, 
about which time (the date is uncertain) they also set up their 
London priory. Sir Richard Grey, a worthy knight, established 
them by the Thames side. The original settlement was small, 
and its early history is by no means clear. Stow's statement 
that King Edward the First gave to the prior and brethren a 
plot of land in Fleet Street upon which to build their house, 
must refer to an enlargement at the least five and twenty 
years after, as that monarch did not ascend the throne until 
1272. I have soon to show how the site first occupied was 
extended by successive gifts and purchases of land, as was the 
case with the first house of the Black Friars by Shoe Lane. 

Edward the First was a generous supporter of the friars, 
and on the outbreak of his Scottish wars he took a learned 
Carmelite, one Robert of Boston, with him in order that he 



100 FLEET STREET 

might write in verse the siege of Stirling Castle and other 
stirring events of the campaign. But within a twelvemonth 
the man fell into the hands of the Scots, and was by Robert 
the Bruce compelled to write the reverse, as if the Scots had 
prevailed — canny, no doubt, but a most unfair use to make 
of a captured poet. 

Like the Temple, the Carmelite Priory in London was fre- 
quently employed for the safeguarding of treasure, and after 
the fall of the Templars its importance largely increased. 
Royal and ecclesiastical councils met in the White Friars, and 
in the reigns of the later Edwards especially State affairs were 
transacted there. The precinct enjoyed special favour by 
grant of Edward the Second, who in 1317 gave to the Carmelite 
friars of Fletestrete exemption from livery of the King's 
stewards and marshals ; further, no officer of the King should 
be lodged at their house. * 

Faith in the security of the Carmelite treasure house was 
rudely disturbed in the year 1307. Robbers broke into the 
building with the aid and connivance of one Friar Judas 
(significant name, but surely an after thought) and carried away 
40 lbs. of silver stored there by a certain knight. " They 
bound in an atrocious way," says an old chronicler, " the hands 
of the Prior and of several of the friars, and one they killed, 
and then took their departure. Judas also went away with 
them, but soon afterwards he had a halter put round his neck, 
and was hanged." a 

The friars were for a long time ill at ease among their neigh- 
bours. The evil reputation that associated with this area 
after the suppression of the religious house, when it became 
the notorious Alsatia, can be traced far back into the Middle 
Ages. Forbidden by penal laws of great severity to live 
within the city walls, women of ill-fame made Whitefriars their 
resort, and the growth of the priory had this good result, 
that it cleared the ground ; the stews were afterwards at Cock 
Lane, Smithfield (Liber Albus, 395), and across the river at 
South wark. Old records of 1347 show that persons of ill 
repute had then, for a considerable time past, made their 

1 Patent Roll, 11th Ed. II, Cal., p. 61. 

* Flores Hisioriarum (Rolls Series) iii, 128 ; Chronicles of Edward 
I and II (Rolls Series), p. 144. 



WHITE FRIARS 101 

abode so close to the Carmelite priory that the friars were much 
hindered in celebrating divine service in their church, in conse- 
quence of the continual clamour and outcries by which the 
district was disturbed. The Mayor and aldermen were ordered, 
in the King's name, to remove the nuisance, for the 
tranquillity of the prior and his brethren. 1 

Just after this complaint, in the middle of the fourteenth 
century, a period of considerable extension and rebuilding 
set in. The Commonalty of the City in the year 1349, John 
Lovekyn being mayor, granted to the prior and brethren the 
right to enclose a lane called " Crokkereslane," reaching 
from Fletestrete to the Thames. It was " to the west of their 
dwelling place," and into or towards if the friars extended 
the west front of their church (Stow). Here, then, was a 
lane already existing and running down to the water, and 
moreover populated, for the friars at the same time took 
powers to dig a well in the same street for the easement of the 
inhabitants of the street. Positive identification is lacking, but 
almost certainly this was a lane running the length of the walls 
of Serjeants' Inn and the Temple, to-day represented by 
Pleydell Court, Lombard Street, and Temple Lane. Where 
Pleydell Court enters Fleet Street was the site, after the 
enclosure, of " Little Friars' Gate." Crockers Lane was 660 
feet in length by 12 feet broad, and, says the Royal licence 
allowing the gift (somewhat gratuitously) " of no value." 2 

Hugh de Courteney, Earl of Devon (died 1378) "re-edified 



1 " Westminster, 18th Feb., 1346. To the Mayor and Aldermen 
of the City of London for the present or the future. Order to cause 
all women of ill-fame dwelling in the west lane or in houses adjoining 
the place of the prior and brethren of the Carmelites, London, to be 
amoved from those places, without delay, whenever they are requested 
by the prior and brethren, forbidding all lords of houses and places in 
that lane or elsewhere to take such women to their houses in future, 
as the prior and brethren have besought the King to cause those women 
to be amoved, as Edward the First gave them a place in Fletestrete, 
London, which they now inhabit, and women of ill-fame have now been 
dwelling near there for some time, whereby the brethren are much 
hindered, through the clamour of men going to those women by night 
and day, from celebrating divine service according to the wish of Ed- 
ward the First." (Cal. of Close Rolls, 20th Ed. Ill, pt. 1, p. 37.) The 
west lane above mentioned is probably " Crokkereslane." 

2 Patent Roll, 23rd Ed. Ill, CaL.pt. 1, p. 298, Also see p. 61, ante. 



102 FLEET STREET 

or new builded " the Carmelite church, says Stow. Moreover, 
he gave a parallel strip of land, 500 feet in length by 20 feet in 
breadth, for the enlargement of the priory, and for a celebration 
of the anniversary of the Earl's son Hugh for ever. 1 A God- 
fearing citizen, one Thomas de Fencotes, alienated to the 
Carmelites a messuage with appurtenances in Flete Strete, 
also in the year 1349, for the fabric of their church then begun, 
in honour of the Virgin Mary, and for a perpetual celebration 
of divine service for his good estate, for his soul when he 
was departed from this world, and for the soul of Joan, late 
his wife. 2 Still the friars, whose avarice grew with their 
wealth, continued to swallow up land, for in the year 1395 
King Richard the Second licensed them to acquire a wide 
strip 100 feet in length between their garden wall and the 
channel of the Thames. 3 This gave them water frontage. 
Within a twelvemonth they added another 100 feet of land. 4 

There was rebuilding of the church fabric after Hugh de 
Courteney's benefaction by Sir Robert Knolles in the reigns of 
Richard the Second and Henry the Fourth. 6 Then, says 
Stow, Robert Marshall (Mascall) Bishop of Hereford, and him- 
self a Carmelite, built the choir, presbytery, and steeple, 
and many other parts. On his death on the 1st December, 
1416, the bishop was buried in the church that he had restored 
with so much munificence. 6 From John Cokayn the elder, 
William Pykard, William Symmys, and John Clerk in 1411 the 
friars obtained a messuage and certain shops in Fleet Street 
to the north of their house ; 7 and this and other gifts, such as 

1 Patent Roll, 24th Ed. Ill, Cal., pt. 1, p. 512. 

2 ibid., 23rd Ed. Ill, Cal., pt. 3, p. 420. 

3 ibid., 19th Richard II, Cal., pt. 2, p. 658. 

4 ibid., 19th Richard II, Cal., pt. 2, p. 705. 

5 Sir Robert Knowles, or Knolles, ancestor of the Earls of Banbury. 
He built a bridge across the Medway at Rochester. By reason of his 
valiant behaviour he was advanced from a common soldier in the French 
wars of Edward III to a great commander. He was buried by the 
Lady Constance, his wife, in the body of the Carmelite church. 

• (Stow and Weever) Robert Mascall was confessor to King Henry 
IV, who employed him in foreign embassies. In 1415 King Henry 
V sent him with two other English bishops to the Council of Constance. 
His will directs that he should be buried at Ludlow, his native place ; 
but this direction is a most unsubstantial basis for the doubt which has 
been thrown on his burial in the Carmelite church in Fleet Street. 

7 Patent Roll, 12th Henry IV. Cal., p. 279. 




From the "Journal of the British Archceological Association." 

Plan of Carmelite Priory at the Suppression 
By W. Crapham, A.F.S.A. 

Modern Streets shown in dotted lines 



104 FLEET STREET 

that by John, Bishop of Bath and Wells, of The Boar's Head 
in St. Dunstan's parish, *• and that of the Bolt-in-Tun in the 
year 1443 2 (both names survive in the street) and purchases 
from citizens, enabled them to extend their property right up 
to Fleet Street. 

By these stages the Carmelite Priory, small at the outset and 
hemmed in by disreputable neighbours, successively extended 
until it comprised all the land to the Temple boundary, to the 
Thames, and northwards towards Fleet Street, though the 
frontage upon Fleet Street never formed part of the close 
dedicated to religious uses. The chief, or " Great Friars Gate," 
was where now is Bouverie Street, and there are indications 
in the St. Dunstan's wardmote inquests of Elizabeth that it 
stood back from the line of Fleet Street. Hugh de Courteney, 
in the fourteenth century, possessed a house with gardens 
by the Fleet Street corner in Water Lane (Whitefriars Street) 
and this and the friars' cemetery plot occupied the space 
between the Fleet Street shops and the Carmelite church. 8 
I can only explain the Earl's gift of a strip of land 500 feet in 
length by its being the friars' frontage on Water Lane. The 
Carmelites built a boundary wall there, which was discovered 
running down the middle of Whitefriars Street during 
excavations for a sewer in 1842. Of the friars' original church, 
dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, only the choir (the 
" Olde Quere ") survived at the suppression. 4 

We are able to reconstruct the pleasant estate with which 
the Carmelites surrounded themselves mainly from three 
sources : the Patent Rolls ; the grants made by Henry the 
Eighth when the heavy hand of that monarch fell upon the 
house 6 (these indicate the buildings at the date of the suppres- 
sion) ; and a manuscript early seventeenth century survey of 
the precinct, preserved in the British Museum, with additional 



1 Patent Roll, 21st Henry VI, Cal., pt. 2, p. 182. 

2 Rot. Pari. 21st Henry VI. 

3 Patent Roll, 12th Henry IV, Cal., p. 279. 

4 It was apparently undergoing repair in 1275, when an order was 
given to the keeper of the Forest of Pembury to cause the Friars of 
Mount Carmel in London to have twelve oaks with their strippings for 
timber for the work of the church of the King's gift. (Close Roll, 3rd 
Ed. II, Cal., p. 279.) 

6 These grants will be found in Chap. IX. 



WHITE FRIARS 105 

help in fixing sites afforded by two or three excavations. This 
survey has been printed by Mr. A. W. Clapham, F.S.A., in a 
valuable paper upon " The Topography of the Carmelite 
Priory in London," in the Journal, 1910, of the British 
Archaeological Association. I am greatly his debtor for 
permission kindly given to reproduce part of a plan 
drawn by him of the Whitefriars Precinct at the time of the 
dissolution. 

The cloister enclosed a green. The great garden of the 
convent was by Thames-side, and there were orchards and 
smaller gardens against the Temple wall and elsewhere, and 
scattered parcels of ground described as waste or empty. 
The claustral buildings included a chapter-house, with land 
between it and Water Lane, the library, fratry, common 
kitchen, and sextry. The Provincial of the Order had his 
lodging, and there was the Prior's lodging. Extensive dor- 
mitories, built partly over the cloister alleys, accommodated 
the friars at night, when they returned from their day's labours 
among the poor. The cemetery was north of the church. I 
also find mention of the " Olde Quere " (choir) still standing, 
with woodyard adjoining, and another place known as " the 
common jakes." These were built about the great structure 
of the settlement which was the centre of its whole life, namely, 
the church. With these leading facts you may fill out the 
picture of this quiet retreat on the ground falling sharply 
to the then silvery Thames, the white robed friars walking 
amid their cloisters and gardens, where to-day the great 
newspaper press throbs day and night. 

The church was magnificent ; it makes an imposing fabric, 
with tall pointed spire, in distinction from the square towers 
of St. Bride's and St. Dunstan's, in Antony van den Wyn- 
gaerde's panorama, the earliest representation of London that 
has come down to us. The first enlargement undertaken was 
the building of the great preaching nave for the public's use, 
and that this was the gift of Sir Robert Knolles is probable 
from the fact that he was buried there. The old nave was 
pulled down, and when the work was completed by Bishop 
Mascall, with the steeple, new choir, etc., the great church, 
standing out square and high, lay right athwart the width of 
the close, from Water Lane to the Temple. Its northern 
extension is known from a discovery in 1883. On the removal 



106 FLEET STREET 

of some old buildings in Bouverie Street, the north wall of 
No. 29 was found to be a massive structure of fourteenth or 
fifteenth century date, about 35 feet in height, built of chalk 
and rag-stone, with quoins of Godstone stone. The wall 
returned at right angles, and a small arched vault contained 
an interment. * 

Mr. Clapham has pointed out that the interment occupies 
the exact spot where Sir John Paston, a brave soldier of the 
French wars (and of the Paston Letters) directed in his will 
of the 31st October, 1477, that he should be buried should he 
die in London, and the remains there discovered may well have 
been those of Sir John himself. 

The church enjoyed that peculiar sanctity which attached to 
places wherein the friars celebrated Mass and sang their 
" Ave Marias." It was there that in Shakespeare's King 
Richard III the Duke of Gloucester commanded the body 
of the murdered Henry should be borne — 

Gloucester. Sirs, take up the corse. 

Gentleman. Towards Chertsey, noble lord ? 

Gloucester. No, to White-Friars ; there attend my coming. 

How eagerly the privilege of burial within the Carmelite 
church was sought may be gathered from the long list which 
Stow gives of notable persons entombed there. 2 

This the curious may consult. But he omits one who should 
certainly have mention. Brother John Baconthorp (died 
1346) rose in 1329 to be Provincial of the Order in England. 
Paul Pansa, an Italian Orator, has left a vignette of him. 
" He was little in stature, but great in wit, and writ such vast 
volumes that his body could not have borne what his brain 
produced. No man more learnedly confounded the Jews ; 
none more effectually confuted the Mohammedans, or any other 
infidels ; none more happily silenced heretics ; none more 
solidly exposed the truth of Christ ; none more manifestly 
detected the falsehood and impostures of Antichirst, and 



1 A. W. Clapham, Journal British Arch. Assn., March, 1910. 

2 Survey of London, ed. 1603, pp. 399-400. Stow's text is somewhat 
corrupt, and should be read with the note on vol. 2, p. 364, of the 
scholarly edition of the Survey edited by Mr. C. L. Kingsford (Clarendon 
Press, 1908). There is a list of seventy-nine burials in the Carmelite 
church in Harl. MS. 6033. British Museum 






WHITE FRIARS 107 

represented them in their true colours ; none more clearly 
expounded the Holy Scriptures/' 

It was everybody's belief that all vestiges of the White 
Friars' Priory had been swept away, when, in 1895, a re- 
discovery was made. The circumstances were singular. 
Far down Whitefriars Street towards the river, on the west 
side, is a little paved alley called Brittons Court, in which four 
houses remain. They look to be a couple of centuries old. 
No. 4 was in use as a dwelling. In that year instructions were 
given to sell the property, and while making investigations Mr. 
Henry Lumley came upon a dark cellar, which extended under 
the court itself. 

It had been used for the storage of coal and wood after rubbish 
had nearly filled the space to the roof. The occupiers, a family 
named Hurrell, who had dwelt in the house for ninety years, 
had some vague idea that it was a sort of uncanny cell, but were 
content not to pry too curiously into its history. Even 
beneath the grime and disorder, an expert eye could not fail 
to recognise that here was fine mason's work, and so on close 
examination it proved. The cellar is a small vault, and its 
period late fourteenth century. 1 

Very few people, even of those who know the district well, 
are aware that in their midst is this relic of the ancient priory 
of the White Friars. For such undoubtedly it is. At present 
three of the houses in Brittons Court are in the occupation of 
Messrs. E. T. Gething and Co., builders and office fitters, 
and entrance to the vault is obtained through the basement 
of No. 4, in the wall of which is an opening about two feet in 
height. One scrambles through without difficulty, and soon 
disappears in the darkness. 

No light penetrates from the outer world, but the flame of 
a taper sufficiently illuminates the vault. The first view 
fills one with complete surprise. The place is very tiny. The 
walls have preserved all the whiteness of chalk, of which they 
appear to be composed. Eight moulded ribs, of a dark stone, 
stretch across like a spider's web, meeting in a carved rose in 
the centre. The vault forms a dome, rising from the same 

1 The vault was actually discovered in 1867, and was briefly described 
in The Builder of that year, page 849, but so little interest was taken 
in the matter that its existence was again completely forgotten. 



108 FLEET STREET 

springing level all round. A corner of the dwelling-house 
projects into the south-east side, for which purpose one of the 
ribs has been cut away and another shortened, but this does 
not appear to have affected the stability of the masonry. 

The little chamber is square, measuring only 12 feet 3 inches 
on each side. One can just stand upright on the litter still 
strewn about, but it has been excavated down. A brick floor 
was first disclosed, then another layer of rubbish, then a 
tiled floor — possibly the original one — and beneath this a 
bed of mortar resting upon clay. Some fragments of pottery 
and glass and a few other objects came to light on careful 
sifting of the rubbish. An ancient doorway, still existing in 
the west wall, seemed to indicate the opening to a subter- 
ranean passage towards the Temple. The doorway is suffi- 
ciently accounted for as the entrance to the vault, and originally 
the only one. 

The chamber appears to be complete in itself. It is too 
far south to have formed any part either of the church or the 
chapter house, and Mr. Clapham is probably right in his 
conjecture that it was the platform on which the Prior's 
lodging was built. The crown is about 2 feet 6 inches below the 
paved court. Dampness shows the necessity for ventilation. 

Apart from the mutilation already mentioned, the vault is 
excellently preserved ; yet sets one thinking. A fragment of 
the Carmelite Priory, and sole remaining relic, with the Austin 
Friars' nave, of the five great London houses of the Mendicant 
Orders, standing upon hallowed ground, it escaped the 
despoilers of Henry the Eighth's time, who spared very little. 
The Great Fire of London burnt ineffectually over it. For two 
centuries and more it was lost to sight when in use as a common 
coal-cellar, and now is in private possession. A coal shaft 
has been cut through the fourteenth century vaulting, closed 
by a Victorian iron-plate in the pavement. The whole 
business is typically English. 

I am glad to think that in Messrs. Gething's hands the relic 
is in safe keeping. But others may come after, and one recalls 
with a shudder how this whole district is being exploited for 
printing works. Surely the nation should have care for such 
antiquities of a memorable age. 

Originally an order of purely contemplative monks, bound 
to rigorous fasting, silence, and solitude, the Carmelites became 



WHITE FRIARS 109 

mendicants only when they scattered over Europe. That 
they were welcomed to London and enjoyed much popularity 
admits of no doubt. A good deal of the dregs of the city's 
population gravitated towards the suburb, and amongst these 
outcasts of humanity their first work lay. The friars in general 
became the natural leaders of the people. They voiced the 
responsibility of the King to God, his duty to rule for the good 
of his subjects, his obligation to listen to the advice of the 
community, and to govern according to its will ; and their 
political songs give the first rough expression of democratic 
teaching in our literature. Their declining influence and decay 
coincide with the growth of their wealth and the corruption 
which accompanied it, until, before the fourteenth century 
had lapsed, they had fallen from the high ideal of their founders 
into that degeneracy which Chaucer's Tales, and still more the 
Vision of Piers Plowman, portray so vividly — 

I fonde there Freris, aUe the foure ordres, 
Preched the peple, for profit of hem-selven, 
Glosed the gospel, as hem good lyked, 
For coveitise of copis, construed it as thei wolde. 

The White Friars were no exception to the rest. Perhaps 
nothing is more significant of their detachment from the 
common life of the people than the fact that while in the half- 
century from 1350 to 1400, in the wills of London citizens 
proved at Guildhall, and enrolled in the Court of Husting, 
there are twenty-three bequests to the Carmelites and their 
church, from the latter date up to the dissolution of their 
London house in 1538, I can trace but three. 

The Order continued, however, to attract men of learning, 
and while it lost influence with the people gained the favour 
of kings, by whom Carmelite friars were frequently employed 
on missions of State. They held the office of Royal Confessors 
during the ascendency of the House of Lancaster ; replacing the 
Dominicans — the Black Friars — who, till Richard the Second's 
deposition, had kept spiritual watch and ward over the Plan- 
tagenet line, " that fiercest, most lawless, and yet noblest 
race of the English blood royal." The Dominicans, no doubt, 
were thought to be too much attached to the older Sovereigns. 

Thomas de Waldon joined the Carmelite Order in London 
when a youth, rose to be its head, and was sent by Henry 
the Fourth to the Council at Pisa for restoring unity in the 



110 FLEET STREET 

Church. King Henry the Fifth expired in his arms, and he 
was councillor to Henry the Sixth while a boy. A scholar as 
well as a statesman, he left, says Leland, to the library of the 
Carmelites at London as many of the choicest books, fairly 
writ in Roman characters, as in those days would cost at least 
2,000 pieces of gold. There are other indications that the 
White Friars possessed one of the best libraries of their time. 

Another Carmelite friar, Richard Northall, was son of a 
Mayor of London, and was appointed by King Richard the 
Second Bishop of Chester, and afterwards Archbishop of 
Dublin. 

Of Richard Patrington, twenty-third Provincial of the 
Order in England, it has been left on record that, being called 
to preach to the people in London, he was so admired that 
there was always an incredible report of him. Much esteemed 
by King Henry the Fourth, he was made by that Sovereign 
confessor to himself, his Queen, and the Prince of Wales. 
When Henry the Fifth ascended the throne, he sent Patrington 
as his Commissioner to Oxford to inquire after and give 
judgment against the followers of Wycliffe and the Lollards. 

Anxious to win adherents, the Carmelites did not always 
hesitate to admit even infants to the vows. There is a very 
curious case on record. John, Abbot of St. Benet of Holme, 
was commissioned by Pope Eugenius IV in 1443 to try the 
cause of John Hawteyn, alias Scharyngton, who had applied 
to Rome to be absolved from his vows, on the ground that he 
had been forced against his will to enter the Order of the 
Carmelites in London before he had completed his fourteenth 
year. A witness stated that Hawteyn had at the age of eight 
been placed in the house of the friars in Fleet Street by his 
parents, by whom he had afterwards been forced to make 
profession there. When he ran away he was brought back 
b^ his mother. He was imprisoned in the house by order of 
Thomas de Waldon, to whom his profession had been made. 
The King stopped the proceedings. The Royal prohibition 
being afterwards removed and the case resumed, the friars did 
not appear to plead. Judgment was given in March, 1447, 
that Hawteyn was not bound to observance of the rule. 1 

The Carmelites maintained a school in London to which 






1 Miss M. Reddan, Victoria History of London, i, 509. 



WHITE FRIARS 111 

students flocked from all the provinces. The story of their 
suppression shall be told later, but I give here the names which 
Miss M. Reddan has recovered of twelve of the priors of the 
London house — 

Osbert Pickingham, died 1330. 

John Elin, or Helin, died 1339. 

John de Reppes, occurs 1343. 

Thomas Brome, provincial 1362. 

John, occurs 1393. 

Thomas Asshewell, S.T.P., occurs 1443. 

John Milverton, D.D., occurs 1465. 

William Bachelor, died at Rome, 1515. 

Thomas Gaskyn, occurs 1527. 

John Kele, occurs 1533. 

George Burnham, occurs 1534. 

John Gybbys, occurs 1538. 

Just by that corner of Fleet Street where Shoe Lane emerges 
there stood in the reign of King Richard the Second a tavern 
with the sign of the Fleur-de-Lys. John Walworth, vintner, 
then kept the house. Near by, at St. Bride's open church- 
yard, was an elm-tree, whereon quite possibly the honest 
taverner hung his sign. 

Out in the street before the tavern, and obstructing a 
free passage, stood the conduit. I imagine it a focussing 
point of social life, a place of gossip for those who congregated 
there to draw water, just as a well is to-day in any small 
Continental town. Water had been brought in pipes to the 
City as early as 1246 — a very interesting example of municipal 
enterprise — but there was, of course, no systematic distribution, 
though certain nobles of importance obtained privilege to attach 
" quills " (pipes of small bore) to their houses. An unscru- 
pulous wax-chandler not so privileged, one William Campion, 
who kept his shop in Fleet Street when Edward the Fourth 
ruled, had pierced the conduit pipe underground, and so con- 
veyed water to his cellar. For this he was punished by the 
Mayor and Aldermen by being made to ride on horseback 
through the city, bearing a vessel shaped like a pipe upon his 
head, which, filled with water, kept him continually drenched. 
In this sorry condition he was taken the round of the City 
conduits, whereat his offence was proclaimed. l 

1 Chronicle of London. Ed. Sir N. H. Nicholas, p. 146. 



112 FLEET STREET 

The conduit brought water to a cistern in Cheapside. Hy- 
draulics being little understood, the steep descent of Fleet 
Street occasioned trouble, and pressure in the pipes caused 
frequent bursts, which flooded houses and cellars and spoiled 
a deal of goods. 

John Walworth, who must have seen with distress his casks 
of good wine floating about on these occasions, petitioned the 
Mayor, Nicholas Extone, and the Aldermen, and a deputation 
attended at Guildhall. The City Fathers gave permission on 
the 12th June, 1388, for a " penthouse " x to be erected over the 
pipes in Fleet Street, being given to understand that " very 
many losses and grievances had oftentimes befallen the people 
of Fletestret through inundations from the London aqueduct," 
which losses are duly set out, and that the evil might thereby 
be rectified. The site for the penthouse was to be " opposite 
to the house and tavern of John Walworthe, vintner, which are 
situate near to the hostel of the Bishop of Salisbury." The 
structure was to be built at the petitioners' own charges. It 
must be removed if found prejudicial to the aqueduct and its 
use by the people. 

" Faithfully to fulfil and do all of which John Rote (Alder- 
man of Farringdon Ward, of whom we hear again), John 
Walworth, Robert Bryan, Thomas Duke, George Cressy, 
Remund Standulf, John Chamberleyn, Robert Ikford, Nicholas 
Simond, Adam Jurdan, Robert Walter, John Attehille, Walter 
Hoggeslade, Walter Dunmowe, William Balle, Roger Kempe- 
stone, Richard Middeltone, Alan Ulryk, Roger Robat, John 
Derneford, Robert Mauncel, and John Emnede, here present, 
undertook, and each of them, at his own risk." 2 The names 
of these old Fleet Street residents are worth recalling. 

This was the original Fleet Street conduit. Frequently 
rebuilt, it remained a conspicuous feature of the street for nearly 
three centuries, and on the occasion of Coronation processions 
or other Royal pageants passing, was decked with flags and 
brightly coloured streamers, and children sang there, and 
many a " subtlety " was devised for the kingly delectation. 
It often reappears in this book. The conduit in Fleet Street 
became a customary place at which Royal proclamations 

1 So Riley (Memorials). Dr. Sharpe translates " pinnicle." 
* Letter Book H. Memorials, p. 503. 



WHITE FRIARS 113 

were made : Henry the Eighth's peace with France was 
announced there in 1546, a trumpet first blowing three times, 
Norroy King at Arms reading the proclamation, and Rouge 
Dragon proclaiming, after which all the trumpets sounded 
together. * Next year the accession of the young King Edward 
the Sixth to the throne was similarly proclaimed to the 
citizens. 

It would seem that Walworth, the tavern-keeper, a public- 
spirited man, himself paid the cost of the conduit, the others 
being guarantors. He died eight years later, and by his will, 
which is preserved among the City documents, he bequeathed 
to Richard Jancok " his leasehold tavern in Fletestrete called 
Fourdelys, charged with the maintenance of a conduit which 
the testator had erected in Fletestrete." 2 Walworth had 
amassed a fortune, having property in the street and in Bride 
Lane, and was buried in St. Bride's churchyard, near by his 
house. 

Stow states that a standard in Fleet Street, by Shoe Lane 
end, was erected by Sir William Eastfield, M.P. for the City, 
and Mayor in 1438. This was for a new water supply 
brought in from Paddington. 3 The standard was restored by 
Eastfield's executors in 1471 ; and seven years later the 
inhabitants of Fleet Street themselves rebuilt it, raising — still 
in the middle of the street — an imposing structure, from which 
came melody rivalling the chimes from the church belfries. 
Over the cistern they placed " a fair tower of stone, garnished 
with images of St. Christopher on the top, and Angels round about 
lower down, with sweet sounding bells before them, whereupon 
by an Engine placed in the Tower they, divers hours of the 
day and night, chimed such a hymn as was appointed." 4 
This explains an otherwise puzzling reference to the " arms and 
angels " being refreshed and repainted for Anne Boleyn's 
coronation procession. 

Again, in 1582, the Fleet Street standard was restored. It 
was removed as a hindrance to the free passage of the street 

1 " Wriothesley's Chronicle " (Camden Society) i, 165. 

2 Husting Wills, ii, 325. 

3 See Cal. Letter Box K, pp. 233, 355-7. 

4 Stow's Survey, ed. Kingsford, ii, 41. In 1743 a great weight of 
leaden pipes was found in the road, part of those laid in 1471 to convey 
water from the standard by Shoe Lane end to that on Fleet Bridge. 

8— (2246) 



114 FLEET STREET 

after the Great Fire of London. There was a smaller cistern, 
supplied from the same source, on Fleet Bridge. The water 
standards were provided with tankards, vessels shaped like a 
cone, narrow at the top, and holding three gallons. Each 
had a stopper, and a handle by which it could be carried. 
The men who took water from the conduit to the houses were 
called cobbs, or water-leaders. 

The most striking building at the eastern end of Fleet Street 
to-day is St. Bride's Church. It was far different in the Middle 
Ages. The church was a poor thing, quite insignificant, and 
its largest feature was the graveyard. Wren built on the exact 
site of the earliest structure. 

I obtained permission of the vicar to climb the wonderful tower, 
in which storey rises above storey until the structure ends in an 
obelisk pointing to the sky, and the eye takes in the sweep of 
the whole city. In the solitude and silence of a great height, 
when the crowded buildings merge together indistinctly, a 
mental vision came back of that glorious skyline of the fifteenth 
century, when London was thickly set with spires as to-day 
it is with warehouses. 

An age of unexampled richness in church building had left 
St. Bride's still insignificant. Look around at the ecclesias- 
tical wealth. Almost casting its shadow over was St. Paul's, 
a structure bigger, longer, higher than the present vast 
cathedral. The great conventual church of the Dominicans at 
Blackfriars, next in the City to St. Paul's itself in spacious- 
ness, was still nearer. In the distance rose Westminster 
Abbey ; and close at hand were the Carmelite Church and the 
Temple Church — the last surviving to recall the triumphs of 
ecclesiastical architecture of the twelfth and mid-thirteenth 
centuries. How was it that St. Bride's continued to be 
neglected ? And whence came the congregations for those 
other immense churches — which to-day, with a London 
population of 5,000,000, are rarely filled — when the whole 
community was packed into little more than the City's square 
mile ? 

The riddle is solved when it is realised that great churches 
like St. Paul's, served by its secular canons, and Westminster 
Abbey, served by the Benedictines, were not built for the 
people. They were built as a sanctuary wherein God should 
dwell, where day by day for ever praise should rise to Him, 



WHITE FRIARS 115 

and wherein should be performed the holy mystery of the 
change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. 
For such a habitation no dimensions could be too vast, no 
expenditure in stone, and carving, and gilding too munificent. 
The people had no rights in them. If they came, it was by 
privilege, and a part of the nave gave them shelter. The 
services and uses to which by far the larger part of these huge 
buildings was consecrated were not for such as they. 

The parish church was the people's church. Within its 
walls the people congregated for the morning Mass, and on 
holy days and festivals for those elaborate rituals in which 
the Catholic community has always delighted. It was 
small because the City was divided into many parishes, and 
the number of residents of each parish was small. Devout 
citizens established chantries and maintained tapers to burn 
before the altars. Simon Petigru, cutler, dying in 1390, left 
to Sir Thomas Hayton, the rector of St. Bride's and the 
wardens of the light of the Blessed Mary, all his tenements in 
the parish for the maintenance of two chantries, and made 
gifts for the fabric of the church, the Fraternity of the Blessed 
Mary therein, and the Fraternity of Saint Brigid ; x and the 
Husting wills contain many other similar bequests. 

Even rebuilding was occasionally undertaken, but the parish 
churches had neither the proportions, nor the importance, 
nor the prestige enjoyed by cathedral and abbey and the 
conventual churches. They did not influence the imagination 
of their contemporaries, and thus it is that long after the daily 
life of the city people is familiar to us, our knowledge of their 
parish churches remains most inadequate. And this though 
the London parish church was to the citizens of the Middle 
Ages more than a house of worship ; the close connection of 
the trade guilds with the religious life of the parish made the 
church — properly the porch — their natural meeting place; 
there deeds were signed, and often moneys were made payable. 

I mention elsewhere a law court of King Edward the Second 
held at St. Dunstan's Church, but of the church itself in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries I can find substantially 
nothing — a chantry or two, the name of a preacher casually 
caught, and that is all. Stow mentions it only by name, as 

1 Husting Wills, i, 285. 



116 FLEET STREET 

next Clifford's Inn. It was not until late in the fifteenth 
century that the enlargement of St. Bride's was seriously 
undertaken, and how tiny must have been the original parish 
church may be gathered from the fact that in the reconstruction 
the early fabric was preserved for use as the choir. The 
building that figures in the earliest maps, and was destroyed 
in the Great Fire of London, was itself small in size, with a 
short square tower and battlements — utterly unlike Wren's 
magnificent church which stands to-day. 

Its enlargement was due to the benefactions of William 
Venor, a former Warden of the Fleet, who about the year 1480 
added a nave and side aisles. In jest of his name, or possibly 
of his trade as vintner, Venor caused the stone-work of St. 
Bride's to be carved with the figure of a vine, with grapes 
and leaves — a curious piece of incongruity in decorating a 
building consecrated as a place of worship. The most 
noteworthy interior feature seems to have been a screen fixed 
between the old work and the new, which had originally been 
set up in the hall of the Duke of Somerset's mansion in the 
Strand, and was bought, Stow tells us, for £160. This was 
not placed in the church, however, until 1557. Forty years 
later the screen was badly damaged by some " wilfull bodie," 
but was restored. 

Adjoining the churchyard wall were the extensive gardens 
and mansion of Salisbury Inn. A dozen signs indicate that 
this was the most important dwelling in Fleet Street through- 
out the Middle Ages, and in its later use as the town house 
of a line of great nobles — the Earls of Dorset — it outlived 
all the other bishops' hostels in the street, only to be destroyed 
in the Great Fire of London. It pleased an Elizabethan 
occupant, writing in 1588, to address himself from " my 
poor lodging in Fleet Street," but that was an affectation 
of the time. The house was not poor, but of its day extra- 
ordinarily fine, and frequently was chosen for the dwelling 
place of princes of the Blood Royal, foreign ambassadors 
who were guests of our kings, and others of high rank. The 
Duke of Clarence was lodged there when he marched into 
London with the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Shrewsbury, 
and brought King Henry the Sixth out of the Tower. * 



1 Chronicles of London. Ed. Kingsford, p. 182. 



WHITE FRIARS 117 

There, too, came in 1498 Prince Arthur, elder brother of the 
future King Henry the Eighth, lodging in the palace of the 
Bishop of Salisbury in Fleet Street. The Mayor, Sir John 
Percival, waited upon the Prince, and presented gifts of 
heavy gilt basins and large gilt pots, the Recorder beseeching 
that his Grace be pleased to accept " that little and poor gift, 
trusting that after they should remember his Grace with a 
better." The Prince was so pleased. " Father Mayor," he 
said, " I thank you and your brethren here present of this 
great and kind remembrance, which I trust in time coming 
to deserve. And forasmuch as I cannot give unto you accord- 
ing thanks, I shall pray the King's Grace to thank you, and for 
my part I shall not forget your kindness." x Had Arthur lived 
to reign and repay the City's generosity, how different English 
history might have been ! 

Like other of the more important mansions of Fleet Street 
in mediaeval times, Salisbury Inn stood back from the frontage, 
the bishop's lands comprising the area between the Friars' 
precinct and Bridewell. It had been much rebuilt in its 
long history, but the older portion was situated about the 
site of Bell's Buildings, formerly Blue Ball Court, a passage 
from Salisbury Square ending in a steep flight of steps to Bride 
Lane. When the houses were last erected anew there so 
recently as 1909, the name was again changed to St. Bride's 
Passage. I cannot, for want of materials, restore the picture 
of the modestly named " hostel " wherein the Bishop of Sarum 
surrounded himself with the magnificence befitting so proud a 
prelate. But the plan of a great house of the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries is well known, and this one, no doubt, 
was like the rest. 

It was the custom to group the buildings around two open 
courts, separated by the dining hall, with its buttery and 
kitchen accommodation, and the chapel. These, accordingly, 
formed one of the four sides of each of the courts, and were 
a central feature of the construction. The plan may be seen 
unchanged to-day in Gray's Inn (though the houses there 
standing are mostly eighteenth century) and traced, not so 
clearly, in Old Buildings, Lincoln's Inn. An arched gateway, 
in early days defended by towers — the old gate of Lincoln's 

1 Chronicles of London. Ed. Kingsford, p. 224. 



118 FLEET STREET 

Inn in Chancery Lane is an excellent example — gave enhance 
to the first of the courts. 

This style of building afforded accommodation for guests 
and the large staff of priests, retainers, and servants attending 
the bishop at his court, whose coming and going between the 
suburb and the walled city no doubt added much to the 
liveliness of Fleet Street. It would have its lawns and gardens 
by the waterside, and tall trees over-topping the insignificant 
houses that made the broken line of the street. His lordship 
himself, however, had little occasion to risk the ruts and the 
mire, with the Thames flowing at the foot of his fine demesne, 
and his barge lying at the bridge, or stairs, built out on the 
river ; for this was the Royal road, which he would traverse 
whether bound for Westminster or Lambeth, or the Tower, 
or halting at Paul's stairs. 

Salisbury Inn, with all its state, was but one of a number 
of bishops' hostels which lined the river bank, but those who 
came after — the Bishops of Exeter, Bath, Chester, and Durham 
— found the City ground occupied, and perforce went beyond 
Temple Bar to build their hostels along the south side of the 
Strand, " being held sacred persons whom nobody would 
hurt," as Selden remarks of them. 

The Fleet River flowed by at the foot of the street, un- 
changeable in its filth. It had gained nothing in purity from 
the migration to its bank, by Seacoal Lane, of the butchers 
from St. Nicholas Shambles, the original Newgate market, 
who were granted land and a quay in 1343 for the purpose 
of depositing there and cleansing in the water the entrails of 
beasts, paying to the Mayor for the privilege a yearly rental 
of one boar's head. 1 The Knights Hospitallers petitioned 
the King that the land was theirs, and demanded its restoration, 
representing that the strench arising was so bad as to be 
injurious to the health of prisoners in the Fleet Prison, and 
others of the neighbourhood. Edward the Third bade the 
Mayor and Sheriffs " do speedy justice." The Mayor hotly 
retorted that the land was the City's and challenged the Prior 
to go to law. 

It was a pretty dispute, but the butchers were ousted. 
The King's writ went out to the City, and after twelve years' 

1 Letter Book F. Memorials, p. 214. 



WHITE FRIARS 119 

suffrance the blue-smocks were moved down the Fleet bank 
to a plot of ground nearer the Thames. * The Fleet was 
cleansed after long intervals, when the outcry became suffi- 
ciently loud, notably in 1501, when it was so scoured down 
to the Thames that boats with oysters, herring, and other 
victuals rowed up to Holborn bridge, and there kept their 
markets as they had done of old time. Stow speaks of this 
cleansing as the last of any effect to his day. 

Across the Fleet River Ludgate, already wearing the signs 
of antiquity, stood on the rise of the steep hill. Like others 
of the City gates, it served the purpose of a gaol, and as early 
as the first year of King Richard the Second had been set apart 
for the immurement of debtors, who were to be " freemen of 
the City, or clergymen, committed for debts, trespasses, 
accompts, and contempts/' Could you have been there at 
any time you would have heard from behind the begging grate 
the cry — 

" Pity the poor debtors ! " 

It rang in the ears of all who passed Ludgate from the 
mediaeval era right on to the Georges. Next to the lawyers 
the debtors, whether in Ludgate or the Fleet Prison and its 
liberties, have been Fleet Street's most persistent neighbours. 
Stow has told how in the year 1463 Dame Agnes Forster 
enlarged the prison of Ludgate, building by the side of the gate 
a stone quadrangle in which the prisoners might walk, and 
lodgings for them, and above leads on which they might exer- 
cise and take the fresh air. A supply of pure water for them 
to drink without fee to the keeper was also provided — for 
hitherto the prison does not seem to have had so elemental 
a necessity as water. The memory of the widow's munificence 
was preserved in some verses graven in copper and affixed to 
the wall — 

Deuout soules that passe this way, 

for Stephen Forster, late Maior, heartily pray, 

And Dame Agnes his spouse, to God consecrate, 

that of pitie this house made for Londoners in Ludgate, 

So that for lodging and water prisoners here nought pay, 
as their keepeis shal all answer e at dreadful doomesday. 

Ludgate was abolished as a debtors' prison by King Henry 
the Fifth — a short-lived experiment. From an ordinance of 

1 Letter Book G. Cal., pp. 31, 32, 43. 



120 FLEET STREET 

1419 the sceptical may learn that it had been the commendable 
intention and charitable purpose to ordain this prison " for 
the good and comfort of poor freemen of the same city, who 
have been condemned ; to the end that such prisoners might 
more freely than others who were strangers, dwell in quiet in 
such place, and pray for their benefactors, and live upon the 
alms of the people, and, in increase of their merits, by benign 
suffrance, in such imprisonment pass all their lives, if God 
should provide no other remedy for them." 

The onus of provision thrown on the Deity is a quaint touch. 
Blunt soldier and statesman that he was, one may imagine 
King Henry the Fifth signing this document with a puzzled 
conscience, for the conditions of benign suffrance in a mediaeval 
gaol cannot be described in polite language. 

But the pious purpose of Henry and his predecessors had 
been frustrated and turned to evil by the wiles of debtors : 
" inasmuch," proceeds the ordinance, " as many false persons 
of bad disposition and purpose have been more willing to take 
up their abode there, so as to waste and spend their goods upon 
the ease and licence that there is within, rather than to pay 
their debts " — and, still worse, to make false charges against 
reputable persons from the security of the prison. Therefore, 
it was ordered that all the prisoners be removed to Newgate. 
The transfer took place on the 1st June, 1419, but by the 2nd 
November of the same year the prison was re-established, it 
having been found that by reason of the fetid and corrupt 
atmosphere that was in the " heynouse " gaol of Newgate, 
many of the Ludgate prisoners committed there were already 
dead. * 

Two of its ancient amenities Fleet Street has lost. A right 
of way formerly existed through the Temple to the river, 
with a bridge, or stairs, on the water which the occupiers 
of the precinct were bound to maintain. It exists for all 
practical purposes to-day, but on Ascension Day each year the 
Inns close their gates against all comers in denial of the right. 
The reason for the choice of that particular anniversary is 
probably forgotten : it was the day upon which the parishes 
" beat the bounds," and extra precautions were taken by the 
Inns to keep out the authorities. The lawyers, anxious for 

1 Letter Book I, Memorials, pp. 674-77. 



WHITE FRIARS 121 

the quiet enjoyment of their property, made an attempt to 
bar the public way not long after they came into possession 
of the Temple, but were defeated, there being a Royal 
ordinance bearing date 1331, directing John de Poultney, 
Mayor and the King's Escheator, to cause the gates of the 
Temple to be kept open " as before was accustomed." 

Grievous complaint was made by the citizens in 1360. They 
said that the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem (the legal Inns 
were lessees) molested them, denying the commonalty free 
ingress and egress " through the Great Gate of the Templars " 
to the river for themselves and their carts and horses, carrying 
victuals and wares, from sunrise to sunset, as had been their 
right time out of mind. 1 This was by Middle Temple Lane. 
By night a footway had been open, but the lawyers' slumbers 
were spared the disturbance of rumbling carts after dark. 
The Prior had not properly maintained the bridge. An 
inquisition was held at Guildhall, on the oath of John de 
Hydyngham and eleven others. 

King Edward the Third stayed proceedings, and in 1374 
took the matter into his Royal hands. This was more than a 
mere citizens' business. The Parliament sat at Westminster. 
There, too, was the King's Palace. Temple bridge, the King's 
writ states, " has been intended for the advantage and ease- 
ment of nobles and others coming to our Parliament and 
wishing to reach their barges and boats there," and if broken 
or obstructed would greatly prejudice them. 2 Backed by this 
powerful influence, the citizens won their cause, and a common 
road remained open through the Temple as late as Henry the 
Eighth. 3 When the right was lost I cannot say, but I suspect 
it was soon after the Hospitallers were ejected from the Temple. 

Sir Robert Hales, who closed the gate, was the Prior of St. 
John of Jerusalem and Treasurer of the Kingdom, who was 
dragged from the Tower and beheaded by Wat Tyler's rebels 
some years later. 

Mention may suffice of a riverside footpath that ran from 
Bridewell to the Savoy, where rushes lined the Thames bank — 
no doubt a pleasant walk, past the Bishop of Salisbury's water 

1 Letter Book G. Memorials, p. 305. 

2 ibid., p. 376. 

3 Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales. 



122 FLEET STREET 

frontage, the Carmelite Priory, and the Temple. When the 
river front of the Temple was first walled in Henry the Eighth's 
reign, care was taken to preserve the ancient footpath. * The 
Victoria Embankment has restored it to the citizens' use after 
three centuries' lapse. 

There was a riot about Salisbury House in 1392, out of which 
great events grew. It began with a loaf of bread snatched 
from a baker's tray in Fleet Street by a servant of the Bishop 
of Salisbury. Knives were drawn, and in the scuffle Roman, the 
servant, wounded the baker. The townsmen collared him. To 
the cry of " Rescue ! " the bishop's servants poured out of 
his house, dragged Roman into security, and refused to yield 
him up. The mob gathered round the gate threatened to 
fire the place. Hasty summons brought the Mayor and 
Sheriffs, who restored order. There the whole matter might 
well have ended. But Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, was 
also Lord Treasurer of England, and no friend of the citizens. 
King Richard the Second himself found the City remiss in 
defeating, by various excuses, his attempted exactions of 
money. 

It was a trivial affair, but the young King seized upon it 
for one of those acts of tyranny which cost him the goodwill 
of the citizens, and ultimately his throne. The insult offered 
to Church and State no doubt lost nothing in Waltham's 
telling. The Mayor was summoned to the King and com- 
mitted to prison at Windsor, and the Sheriffs were sent to 
Odysham and Wallingford, and heavily fined ; a fine of 
£100,000 was imposed upon the City, and its charters were 
withdrawn ; the Sheriffs and Aldermen were deposed, and 
others put in their places, the Mayor being degraded, and Sir 
Edward Dalyngrigge appointed Custos of London. A month 
later the fine was remitted and the charters restored, but out 
of the upheaval — big results to follow a stolen loaf of bread — 
came certain reforms in the City government, and incidentally 
the division of the great ward of Farringdon within and without 
the walls. 

This preserves the name of William de Farndone, alderman 
and citizen at a time when the aldermen were the great 
landowners ; in fact, an important personage, goldsmith by 

1 Cal. of Inner Temple Records, i, 106. Wyngarde's map. 



WHITE FRIARS 123 

trade, Sheriff in 1280. The ward, then united, was not con- 
stituted on the present basis until 1347, when its representa- 
tives were first admitted to the Common Council, but its 
history can be traced back much earlier. The origin of the 
largest City ward, which has given to London's civic life a 
distinguished roll of aldermen — eminent among whom stand 
Fabyan, the chronicler, Sir Francis Child, Sir F. Gosling, 
John Wilkes, Robert Waithman, and certainly not least in 
civic worth and in philanthropic activity, Sir William Treloar, 
the present Alderman of Farringdon Without — is worth a 
page's discussion, and this the hurried reader may skip. 

Joce FitzPeter was in 1223 Alderman of Ludgate — five 
years, it may be recalled, before Fleet Street itself is first 
heard of in the City's records. Next is found reference, after 
a considerable interval, to the Ward of Newgate and Ludgate, 
and in 1277 to " the Ward of Ankittall de Auvergne within the 
gate " — presumably Ludgate. The first definite evidence of 
a ward constituted without the wall is in the demise by Thomas 
de Ardene to Anketin de Auverne — the same person as above, 
but the name differently spelt — of " the Ward of Ludgate 
within and without " for life. Then in the Coroner's Roll of 
King Edward the First already referred to (page 59) and in 
the City Letter Books, it takes the name of the ward of Anketil 
de Auvergne, from its owner. 

Anketil de Auvergne disappears about 1277, and the ward 
lapsed again into the hands of Thomas de Ardene, who devised 
it to Ralph le Fevre. He enjoyed possession but a brief time, 
for by deed enrolled in 1281 his son John disposed of the ward 
to William de Farndone, alderman of Newgate, and it attached 
to that magnate's already considerable possessions, bearing 
the name of " the ward of Ludgate and Newgate within and 
without," and thereafter the ward of William de Farndone. 
A definite title was not yet settled, for as late as 1310 a writ 
of Edward the Second uses the words " Ward of Fletestrete," 
in 1319-20 it appears as Farndon Infra and Farndon Extra, * 



1 Dr. Reginald Sharpe has recently pointed out that as early as 
1301 he finds both the Ward of Nicholas de Farndone Within and the 
Ward of Nicholas de Farndone Without separately mentioned in a 
Coroner's Roll of the City, as if they were looked upon as distinct wards 
(and not parts of the same ward) at that early date. 



124 FLEET STREET 

and with yet another varient in 1334. Stow tells the story 
of the aldermanry being held by Farndon on the tenure of one 
clove, or slip of gilliflower, to be yielded annually at Easter, 
but this was not the chief consideration. A tenure at the 
presentation of one red rose became quite common. The 
great Duke of Wellington held Strathfieldsay on tenure of 
yielding a flag each year to the Sovereign, and his successor 
to-day performs the service. 

William de Farndone died in 1294, leaving a daughter and 
heiress, Isabella, and thereafter to posterity much confusion. 
A Nicholas de Farndone arises, enjoying the same great posses- 
sions, four times mayor, member of Parliament for the City, 
and the first to be so elected during his mayoralty, and much 
else ; the son, says Stow, of William de Farndone, from whom 
and his father the ward took its name. It is plain that Stow 
jumped at this conclusion, because we have the elder Farndone 's 
will preserved in the Husting Rolls, and he left no son. But 
there was a Nicholas, son of Ralph le Fevre, who married the 
heiress Isabella, and to them jointly, after his widow's demise, 
and to their heirs, he left all his property. * 

It appears that Nicholas le Fevre on inheriting changed his 
name to Farndone. At his death in 1334 he left his aldermanry 
to John de Poultney, as " the aldermanry of Farndon within 
Ludgate and Newgate and without," with gifts to Roysia, 
his daughter, a grandson, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, 
and others ; the residue to be expended for the souls of William 
de Farndon, Ralph le Fevre, and Isabella the mother of the 
testator, and all Christians. His will straightens out the 
tangle, for his daughter Roysia succeeded in obtaining a stay 
of execution, claiming that after her parents' death, she, as 
daughter of Isabella, the daughter of William de Farndon, 
was heiress to the property. 2 

The ward grew too big to be self-contained, and in 1393 it was 
divided, as ever since it has remained, into the separate wards 
of Farndon — now Farringdon — Within and Farndon Without. 

Two processions I mention here that passed up mediaeval 
Fleet Street, the first to the block on Tower Hill. 

The year was 1470, amid the War of the Roses. King 
1 Husting Wills, i, 112. a ibid., i, 397. 



WHITE FRIARS 125 

Edward the Fourth had fled to the continent. Out of the 
Tower of London Warwick, in this hour of the Lancastrians' 
triumph, had brought a King, broken and enfeebled after five 
years' captivity, and again Henry the Sixth sat on his throne — 
limp and helpless as a sack of wool, " a mere shadow and pre- 
tence of a king." The victors in their statecraft were merciful 
in a measure little known in that time of wholesale execution 
of prisoners. 

Alone of all Edward's followers, John Tiptoft, Earl of 
Worcester, was set aside for death. 

This man, holding under Edward the high office of Con- 
stable of England, had roused a furious hatred. Men breathed 
more freely when he was captured. " People much rejoiced," 
says a contemporary chronicler ; "he was cruel in justice, 
and was named the butcher of England." Another calls him 
" the fierce executioner and beheader of men." He had known 
no mercy. Sir Ralph Grey, governor of Bamborough Castle, 
the garrison of which was the last to hold out against the 
victorious Yorkists in 1464, came before him severely wounded 
and a prisoner, and was put to death, with a large party of 
other Lancastrians. 

Tiptoft had shocked English sentiment, not then disposed to 
be at all squeamish, by impaling the bodies of some twenty of 
Warwick's retainers who, when escaping to France, had been 
taken in a naval engagement at Southampton, and had been 
sent to him for execution. His vengeance when Deputy of 
Ireland was left unsatisfied by the attainder and death of 
Desmond, and he was accused of having cruelly slaughtered 
two of the Irish earl's infant sons. 

A few days after Henry the Sixth had been restored to his 
throne, the Earl of Worcester was brought to London. Dis- 
guised, he had taken refuge among some herdsmen in the 
forest of Weybridge, Huntingdonshire. It is said that having 
sent a countryman to buy food for him with a larger piece of 
money than was ordinarily found among the forest dwellers, this 
act drew suspicion upon him, and a party of soldiers sent out 
discovered him concealed amid the spreading branches of a tree. 

Indicted at Westminster for high treason, he realised the 
fate reserved for him by his implacable enemies. For John de 
Vere, Earl of Oxford, whose father and brother he had himself 
caused to be executed, had been appointed Constable specially 



126 FLEET STREET 

for his trial. It was judged " that he should go from thence 
upon his feet unto Tower Hill, and there to be headed." 

The procession set out on that 17th October, 1470, the 
captive Earl strongly guarded. The way was still largely 
rural. Charing was a tiny village on the route, distinguished 
only by Queen Eleanor's cross. By the north of the Strand 
were but few houses, as yet no continuous line, and long blank 
walls, the bare limbs of the orchard trees showing above them, 
concealed the Savoy and the mansions of bishops and nobles 
that lay along the river bank. 

In this fashion John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, reached 
Temple Bar, going on foot to his death. 

Beyond, they entered the narrow street of the City. Little 
doubt that all the way from Westminster people had gathered 
by the roadside to heap execrations upon " the butcher of 
England." But here in Fleet Street the throng of citizens was 
dense, and awakened passions rose to fever heat. The chronicle 
is bare in detail, suggesting merely the presence of the surging 
crowd, but this at least is plain : the prisoner's guard came 
very near to being overpowered. It could make no headway, 
" people pressed so fast about him." Fearing for the life of 
the Earl, whose end was reserved for other means than that of 
lynching by an enraged mob, the officers " were fain to turn 
into the Fleete (Prison) with him ; and there he rested that 
night." * 

Next day the march to Tower Hill was resumed. 

In his last hour Tiptoft bore himself with the demeanour 
of an English gentleman. He was patient and dignified, 
showing no distress. His final request was to the executioner, 
and a strange one — that he should strike three blows in honour 
of the Trinity. 

The headsman, his fingers gripped in the matted hair, held 
up the bleeding relic to the multitude — 

" This is the head of a traitor ! " 

Merely a mediaeval ruffian? Far from it. "The axe" 
(that slew him), says Caxton, " at one blow cut off more 
learning than was left in the heads of all the surviving nobility. 
In his time flowered in virtue and cunning none like him, 
among the lords of the temporality in science and moral virtue." 

1 Chronicles of London, Ed. Kingsford, p. 182. 



WHITE FRIARS 127 

Tiptoft had resided in Italy and studied at Padua. He 
was accounted a man of vast erudition, and was an accom- 
plished Latinist, the friend and patron of learned men, collector 
of a great library, and a traveller of cultivated taste. He 
translated books of Cicero and Caesar, besides composing works 
of his own both in Latin and English. 

Strange that war should so brutalize a scholar. The type 
is that of the Italian Renaissance rather than English in its 
blend of unmeasured ferocity with love of art and letters. 

Another procession had passed up Fleet Street a generation 
before, the central figure a woman, barefooted, robed in a sheet. 

In such guise in the year 1441 who would have recognised 
Eleanor Cobham, the beautiful mistress before she became wife of 
Humphrey Duke of Gloucester — " the good Duke Humphrey," 
who did so very little to deserve the title which the Londoners 
gave him. She had been chief lady-in-waiting to his duchess, 
Jacquelaine of Hainault, whom he had deserted for her. 

Humphrey of Gloucester had been humbled in the dust, 
and in the triumph of Cardinal Beaufort, Eleanor Cobham 
was arrested for sorcery. 

The charge seems to have been well founded. King Henry 
the Sixth was then a delicate and feeble youth of nineteen, 
and could his death be brought about, the throne lay open to 
the Duke of Gloucester, his uncle. The means by which so 
great an end was sought were somewhat pitiful. With Roger 
Bolingbroke, an astrologer, and Marjery Jourdain, the Witch 
of Eye, and other accomplices, Humphrey's duchess had given 
her countenance to necromancy and unholy rites. Not only 
had they inquired of the stars concerning the destiny of the 
young sovereign, but with demoniacal intent had practised 
against his life, by consuming a wax image made in his likeness 
over a slow fire, praying that as the figure melted his life might 
melt also. Shakespeare has told the result of their trial — 

King. Stand forth, Dame Eleanor Cobham, Gloucester's wife ; 

In sight of God and us, your guilt is great : 
Receive the sentence of the law for sins 
Such as by God's book are adjudged to death. 
You four from hence to prison back again ; 
From thence unto a place of execution : 
The witch in Smithfield shall be burn'd to ashes, 
And you three shall be strangled on the gallows. 



128 FLEET STREET 

You, madam, for you are more nobly born, 
Despoiled of your honour in your life, 
Shall, after three days' open penance done, 
Live in your country here in banishment, 
With Sir John Stanley, in the Isle of Man. 
Duchess. Welcome is banishment ; welcome were my death. 1 

On the Monday after her sentence, Eleanor Cobham, a 
guarded prisoner, came down the river by barge from West- 
minster, and landed at the Temple stairs. The Mayor, with 
the Sheriffs and the craftsmen of London, were assembled 
there to receive her. Passing through the Temple, they turned 
at its gate into Fleet Street, and so continued to St. Paul's. a 
It must have made a long procession that wound down the 
slope between the quaint mediaeval houses amid a throng of 
onlookers : the Mayor and Sheriffs, their marshal, and the 
civic officials on horseback at the head, the crafts of London 
on foot at the rear, in the centre the guard of pikemen and 
billmen, and walking between them, barefooted, in a penitential 
robe of white and head uncovered, and carrying in her hand a 
tall candle two pounds in weight, passed the lovely, ambitious, 
and deeply humiliated Duchess of Gloucester — 

Mail'd up in shame, with papers on my back, 
And follow'd with a rabble that rejoice 
To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans. 
The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet, 
And when I start, the curious people laugh, 
And bid me be advised how I tread. 
Ah, Humphrey ! 

such a prince he was, 
As he stood by whilst I, his forlorn duchess 
Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock 
To every idle rascal follower. 

She offered her candle at the high altar in the Cathedral, 
and returned to Westminster, twice again that same week 
to enter the City and resume her penance, landing on the 
Wednesday at Old Swan, London Bridge, and on Friday at 
Queenhithe. Thereafter she was banished for life to solitary 
confinement, first in Chester Castle, and afterwards, it is said, 
in the Isle of Man. 



1 King Henry VI. Part II, Act ii, Sc. 3. 

2 Chronicles of London. Ed. Kingsford, p. 149. 



WHITE FRIARS 129 

You will be told to-day at Peel Castle that her ghost is still 
seen ascending the stone staircase at midnight, and that 
nocturnal sounds break the silence of the roofless halls. It 
is likely, however, that Eleanor Cobham died, some ten years 
after her penance, not there, but in Wales. 



9— (3246) 



CHAPTER VI 

ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 

But now behold, 
In the quick forge and working-house of thought. 
How London doth pour out her citizens ! 
The mayor and all his brethren in best sort. 

King Henry V, Act v, Prologue. 

Leaving its larger institutions and buildings, I come now to 
deal more particularly with the intimate life of the street ; 
to tell of the men who worked at their crafts in the meaner 
houses, or sold their wares from the open shops ; the women 
jostling amidst the throng, picking a way among the stalls, 
and lifting their petticoats high to step across the dirty kennels 
that ran open down each side of the street, taking off the 
surface water after every shower, and with it some part of the 
town refuse. 

The way was narrow, and the buildings huddled together, 
grouped in a broken line. They were so because this was a 
trading street largely by afterthought. First came Templar 
and abbot and bishop and friar, and these, having settled 
themselves about Fleet Street north and south upon eligible 
spots, left little land for the needs of a trading community — 
how little I am going to show later by the incontestible 
evidence of the seizures by Henry the Eighth at the 
Reformation. 

No imaginary person shall have any place in this chapter. 
The people who fill these succeeding pages for the most part 
lived in the street ; their life story belongs to it, and when 
death came, sometimes by plague, sometimes by violent 
means, they were buried in the spacious churchyards close by 
their homes. No one can think of Fleet Street as home to-day. 
The mediaeval craftsman — capper, weaver, glovemaker, sporier, 
as he might be — was freeman in little but name. He was tied 
by guild law to his trade, and his trade was tied to a particular 
area of the City, from which neither man nor craft could move. 
The street was to him much more than a mere highway. To 
place the man in his true surroundings one or two matters 
must be kept in memory. 

130 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 131 

Let Fleet Street as it is disappear like a mirage. We shall not 
want it for some centuries, and its persistence in memory blocks 
the way to the clear vision which now I most require. There 
came a time when the development of London along the Thames 
made this street and the Strand the principal western approach 
to the City, but it was not in the period with which I am thus 
far concerned. Fleet Street was never of much account as a 
highway in its early years. The great high road to the 
City on the west was by Holborn (known as " the King's 
street ") and Newgate direct into Chepe, London's principal 
market. 

Late in the Middle Ages Fleet Street began to overshadow 
in importance this older way. Its rise was due to the general 
trend of the town westward along the river, and to nothing 
else. Only when this is realised can the growth of the suburb 
be seen in its true perspective. I have shown in a previous 
chapter how the levy of heavier tolls under King Henry the 
Third (except for bark used by the Fleet tanners) seemed 
designed to have discouraged the use of Fleet Street in favour 
of the earlier routes. And as if to prove that by the middle 
fourteenth century its status in the teeming city was still 
small, a curious piece of evidence is forthcoming. 

When Edward the Third sat on the throne in 1356, the year 
of Poitiers, revenue was required for the repair of the roads 
leading into the city, and a new tax was imposed on carts pass- 
ing the gates. The number of collectors appointed indicates 
upon which roads the traffic was heaviest. For Ludgate a 
single collector sufficed, though the other gates had two, and 
Bishopsgate, through which carts and pack-horses bringing 
provisions poured into the town, required as many as four. 
Ludgate for mediseval citizens was, in fact, an obstructed way 
of reaching the heart of the city, for as soon as the gate was 
passed the walls and outbuildings of the cathedral precincts 
necessitated some detour. 

Late as the 24th year of King Henry the Eighth the road 
west of Temple Bar was described in a statute as " very 
foul and full of pits and sloughs, very perilous and noisome, 
and necessary to be kept clean, for the avoiding of corrupt 
savours and occasions of pestilence " — not our idea of a much 
frequented highway. 

But there is more if old London down through the Middle 



132 FLEET STREET 

Ages and even past the Great Fire, is to be known. The 
highway of the City's commerce, and of communication from 
point to point, was neither Fleet Street nor any other of the 
miry roads along which carts rolled, but the Royal river. 
London for centuries grew along the Thames and nowhere else, 
and always westward. Look at any pile of old maps, and this 
is made plain. There was the walled area, the City's " square 
mile " — itself, by the way, long and shallow — and thrust 
out from the western gate Fleet Street, the Strand, Charing 
Cross, and Whitehall, and so on to the Palace and Abbey of 
Westminster, and across the river at Lambeth the seat of 
the Primates of All England. 

On the north open fields were visible from any of the gates. 
To the east Wapping, lying at the City's foot, consisted of 
little but the gallows upon which pirates and sea rovers 
were hanged, until the marshes were reclaimed under Queen 
Elizabeth. The line was thin and long drawn out, always 
hugging the riverside. The citizens never moved far from this 
noble water-road, which called for no repairs, was open what- 
ever the weather or season, and without jostling or crowding 
gave more than ample accommodation for all. The Thames 
flowed by in an unrestricted channel, and was crossed only by 
King John's stone bridge, carrying a horse- and foot-way by 
seventeen arches and piers. 

This one fact is as significant as any of London's dependence 
on the Thames as the one great artery of its life. Down 
through our long history, no palace of the English Kings has 
ever been built away from the river bank, until William 
the Third, for the benefit of his chest complaint, settled on the 
Kensington gravels ; if exception be made of St. James's 
Palace, which at the time of its foundation was a rural 
retreat. 

The Thames was London's " silent highway," the common 
way for all alike, for sovereign and subject, noble and merchant. 
It served them all. The poet Gower — Chaucer's friend, the 
" moral Gower " — has left a charming picture of the mediaeval 
river. Passing one day in his row-boat, he chanced to meet 
King Richard the Second coming down the stream from 
Westminster in his tapestried barge. The monarch, on espying 
him, commanded him to the Royal craft, and there charged 
him to write some new thing that he might read. It was in 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 133 

the year 1390. Gower produced the Confessio Amantis, and 
in the Prologue described his audience on the water — 

As it bifel upon a tyde, 

As thing, which scholde tho betyde, — 

Under the town of newe Troye, 

Which tok of Brut his ferst joye, 

In Temse, whan it was flowende, 

As I be bote cam rowende, 

So as fortune hir tyme sette, 

My liege lord par chaunce I mette ; 

And so befel, as I cam nyh, 

Out of my bot, whan he me syh, 

He bad me come in to his barge. 

And whan I was with him at large, 

Amonges othre thinges seid 

He hath this charge upon me leid 

And bad me doo my besynesse, 

That to his hi he worthinesse 

Some newe thing I scholde boke, 

That he himself it mihte loke 

After the forme of my writynge. 

And thus upon his comandynge 

Myn herte is wel the more glad 

To write so as he me bad. 

Little matter that Gower tired of his liege lord King Richard, 
and in a later issue altered the dedication to Henry of 
Bolingbroke ; there is the Thames as he knew it 500 years ago. 

It is not my purpose to attempt the praises of the Thames, 
but to indicate how through the Middle Ages and long after- 
wards the City lived by, and along, and upon the river. 
Narrow mediaeval streets, deep with ruts and with noisome 
open kennels, could never have borne the whole burden of 
London's commerce, which went mainly by water. When 
this fact is well lodged, it will be easier to realise Fleet Street 
as it was — a noisy trading street, with open shops, the way 
often obstructed by stalls, and not intended for heavy traffic, 
which passed in barge and boat by the silent river at its side. 
A bar stood at one end, and beyond Fleet Bridge a prison 
(Ludgate) shut in the street at the other. 

Gower has been pressed into service for the smooth-flowing 
Thames of his day — a flash just seen, and it has gone. Lyd- 
gate, his younger contemporary, shall serve for the street. 
True, it is not actually Fleet Street with which this description 
deals, but it is typical. Lydgate's " London Lackpenny " 



134 FLEET STREET 

should be more widely known than it is. The merit of his 
verse is the surprising vividness with which it portrays 
the cries of the town, the bustling tradesmen pushing their 
wares, the pots clattering on the pavement, and the vagrant 
" harp, pipe, and minstrelsy " — and, too, the sharp practice 
played by the townsman on his country cousin. The woes of 
the countryman coming to London to get justice, who " could 
not speed " by not having money to pay for it, may leave us 
cold ; that lesson was learnt long before the fifteenth century ; 
but the opening passages, where Lydgate thrusts himself 
among the lawyers at Westminster, give a glimpse, as delightful 
as it is rare, of the mediaeval courts. 

John Lydgate, born in 1370, died about 1440, and the poem 
belongs to his middle period. No apology is needed for 
printing it in full, though a rendering in modern spelling 
(for convenience in reading) may justly be open to criticism — 

THE LONDON LACKPENNY 

To London once my steps I bent, 
Where truth in no wise should be faint ; 
To Westminster- ward I forthwith went, 
To a man of law to make complaint. 
I said, " For Mary's love, that holy saint, 
Pity the poor that would proceed ! " 
But for lack of money, I could not speed. 

And, as I thrust the press among, 

By froward chance my hood was gone ; 

Yet for all that I stayed not long 

Till to the King's Bench I was come. 

Before the Judge I kneeled anon 

And prayed him for God's sake take heed, 

But for lack of money, I might not speed. 

Beneath them sat clerks a great rout, 

Which fast did write by one assent ; 

There stood up one and cried about 

" Richard, Robert, and John of Kent ! " 

I wist not well what this man meant, 

He cried so thickly there indeed, 

But he that lacked money might not speed. 

To the Common Pleas I yode tho, x 
There sat one with a silken hood : 

1 Went then. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 135 

I 'gan him reverence for to do 

And told my case as well as I could ; 

How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood ; 

I got not a mum of his mouth for my meed, 

And for lack of money I might not speed. 

Unto the Rolls I gat me from thence, 
Before the clerks of the Chancery ; 
Where many I found earning of pence ; 
But none at all once regarded me. 
I gave them my plaint upon my knee ; 
They liked it well when they had it read ; 
But, lacking money, I could not be sped. 

In Westminster Hall I found out one 

Which went in a long gown of ray ; * 

I crouched and knelt before him ; anon, 

For Mary's love, for help I him pray. 

" I wot not what thou mean'st," 'gan he to say ; 

To get me thence he did me bid, 

For lack of money I could not speed. 

Within this Hall, neither rich nor yet poor 

Would do for me aught although I should die ; 

Which seeing, I gat me out of the door ; 

Where Flemings began on me for to cry, — 

" Master, what wilt thou copen and buy ? 

Fine felt hat, or spectacles to read ? 

Lay down your silver, and here you may speed." 

To Westminster Gate I presently went 

When the sun was at high prime ; 

Cooks to me they took good intent, 

And proffered me bread, with ale and wine, 

Ribs of beef, both fat and full fine ; 

A faire cloth they 'gan for to spread, 

But, wanting money, I might not then speed. 

Then unto London I did me hie, 

Of all the land it beareth the prize ; 

" Hot peascodes ! " one began to cry ; 

" Strawberries ripe ! " and " Cherries in the rise ! " a 

One bade me come near and buy some spice ; 

Pepper and saffron they 'gan me bede ; 3 

But, for lack of money, I might not speed. 



1 Striped cloth. 
a On the bough, 

8 Offer 



136 FLEET STREET 

Then to the Cheap I 'gan me drawn 

Where much people I saw for to stand ; 

One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn ; 

Another he taketh me by the hand, 

" Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land ; " 

I never was used to such things indeed ; 

And, wanting money, I might not speed. 

Then went I forth by London stone, 

Throughout all the Canwick street ; l 

Drapers much cloth me offered anon ; 

Then comes me one cried " Hot sheep's feet ! " 

One cried " Mackerel \ " " Rushes green ! " another 

'gan greet ; 
One bade me buy a hood to cover my head ; 
But, for want of money, I might not be sped. 

Then I hied me into East Cheap 

One cries " Ribs of beef and many a pie ! " 

Pewter pots they clattered on a heap ; 

There was harpe, pipe and minstrelsy ; 

" Yea, by cock \ " " Nay, by cock ! " some began cry ; 

Some sung of " Jenkin and Julian " for their meed ; 

But, for lack of money, I might not speed. 

Then into Cornhill anon I yode 

Where there was much stolen gear among ; 

I saw where hung my owne hood, 

That I had lost among the throng ; 

To buy my own hood I thought it wrong ; 

I knew it as well as I knew my creed ; 

But, for lack of money, I could not speed. 

The Taverner took me by the sleeve ; 

" Sir," saith he, " will you our wine assay ? " 

I answered, " Thou cannot much me grieve ; 

A penny can do no more than it may." 

I drank a pint, and for it did pay ; 

Yet, sore a-hungered from thence I yede ; 

And, wanting money, I could not speed. 

Then hied I me to Billingsgate, 

And one cried " Ho ! go we hence ! " 

I prayed a bargeman, for God's sake, 

That he would spare me my expense. 

"Thou 'scap'st not here," quoth he, "under two-pence, 

I list not yet bestow any almsdeed." 

Thus, lacking money, I could not speed. 

1 Cannon Street. 






ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 137 

Then I conveyed me into Kent ; 

For of the law would I meddle no more. 

Because no man to me took intent, 

I dight me to do as I did before. 

Now Jesus that in Bethlehem was bore, 

Save London and send true lawyers their meed ! 

For whoso wants money with them shall not speed. 

In the houses, behind the latticed windows which overlooked 
the animation and vivacity of the street, or within the shops, 
wide open to wind and weather, the quiet craftsman worked 
at his trade. Picturesque these later mediaeval houses may 
have been, with cross-timberings, and gables, and high-pitched 
roofs covered with red tiles, often with each storey built out 
beyond that which gave it support, and so threatening to crush 
the base by excessive weight ; but dark and gloomy still, for 
the builders who built so solidly in wood seemed to have 
feared neither fire nor thieves so much as light. 

Fleet Street maintains some reputation for hats. Few 
of the hatters probably are aware that they are the heirs of 
its oldest trade. The fraternity of cappers, or cap-makers, 
was the first of the crafts whose ordinances have come down 
through the ages, and it is a singular circumstance that they 
were settled, not within the walled city, but in the suburb. 
I know nothing in the conditions of the trade to account for 
this exclusion. Unlike Milk Street, Bread Street, Friday 
Street, Wood Street, and other byways about Cheapside, 
which by their names recall the booths and stalls of the 
mediaeval markets held there, Fleet Street has never borne a 
trade name, but five and six centuries ago it was the recognised 
headquarters of a particular trade — that of the cappers — like 
those above mentioned. The cappers of Fleet Street received 
their regulations in the reign of King Henry the Third, before 
the Lorimers, the next oldest company, whose ordinances date 
from the year 1269. 

What sort of caps did they make ? Well, that I can tell, 
though fashions have changed a good deal since Henry the 
Third was King. They were made of wool, and were only 
permitted to be of certain chosen colours. It was unlawful 
to dye old caps black, for that meant prolonging their life, 
and less work for the craft. Nor, perhaps for the same reason, 
were new caps of white or grey wool to be dyed black. No 
work was to be done at night — for night work in the view of 



138 FLEET STREET 

the guilds meant bad work and, a matter of equal importance, 
less supervision over the workman. 

In order to see these articles properly carried out, six persons 
of the trade were to be elected, and power was given to punish 
those of their fellows guilty of fraudulent conduct. One of 
the trade was not allowed to receive the servant of another. 
By this and other regulations limiting his opportunities, his 
wages, and fixing his hours of labour and place of abode, the 
power of the craftsman was effectually shattered and his voice 
silenced, and though he shared in some measure in the benefits 
of guild-craft, he was permitted no part in its government. 

" Foreign " cappers (non-freemen) by inferior goods and 
unfair competition — the persistent vice of the foreigner — inter- 
fered with the market. The evil example spread to the City's 
own honest craftsmen. Cheap flock was used in place of 
sound wool. Caps were worked with chalk or with coal. 
It became a scandal, and in the time of King Edward the 
Second the guild obtained further ordinances, mainly directed 
against the foreigner. Merchants not of British nationality 
and trading in this country were in future to find security 
that they would withdraw all such caps from the kingdom, 
and any found thereafter in the City were to be burnt. The 
London tradesman detected in fraud was to be amerced, 
and certain persons were sworn to make scrutiny. x 

The cappers carried their attack on the foreigner too far, 
preventing and interfering with the manufacture and import 
of caps, whereby the King lost the customs payable to him. 
Complaint of this was made to Edward the Second in Parlia- 
ment at York on the 20th May, 1319, and John de Little, 
William Reyner, Henry and John de Amodesham, John 
Baldewyne, Richard de Wirmyngham, Geoffrey Palmer, John 
de Badburgham, John de Stotfold, Walter de Wechyngham, 
Thomas de Eyton, Roger Ode, and Richard de Pontefracto, 
cappers of Fletestrete in the city of London, were called 
upon to answer for it. Further they were charged with 
having maintained illegal confederacies of the trade for the 
purpose. 2 They pleaded the King's letters as their authority. 

1 For ordinances of the Cappers see Liber Custumarum (Rolls Series), 
vol. 2, part 1, pp. 101-4, and also Dr. Sharpe's calendars of the City 
Letter Books. 

I Patent Roll, 12th Edward II Cal., p. 369, 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 139 

Edward the Third also had troubles with the craft, and 
summoned the cappers of Fleet Street to show by what 
warranty they had enforced regulations allowing caps to be 
made of certain materials to the rejection of others, and had 
punished transgressors of their rules. They answered pleading 
a precept by the King in Parliament. 

Although so old a fraternity, the cappers — hurers they came 
often to be called — suffered much by the splitting up of the 
trade of providing headgear. Rival organisations grew up 
which weakened their authority and independence. They 
received a staggering blow when, in the year 1417, they engaged 
in a trial of strength with the formidable Company of Haber- 
dashers. This is worth a moment's consideration as showing 
how tenacious were the old London craftsmen in maintaining 
hand-work and resisting improved methods. 

" Long cappes," to the number of fifteen, had been seized in 
the shop of James Bowyer, a haberdasher, because they were 
felled by human feet, such practice, or felling by mill, being 
forbidden by the narrow guild-law under penalty of forfeiture. 
The Mistery of Cappers claimed right to burn the seized 
goods. The man's guild took up his case, and it came before 
the Mayor and Aldermen at Guildhall. There the Master 
and Wardens of the Haberdashers pleaded that the Cappers' 
ordinance was not for the public good. They said that 
" cappes, hures, and hattes," both in England and abroad, 
were felled both by mill and feet at less cost, and were equally 
good as those felled by the hand. Further, they said that the 
ordinance was bad because the Mistery of Haberdashers, as 
well as the Mistery of Cappers, had, so they asserted, the right 
to search for and attach false " cappes, hures, and hattes." 

The Mayor and Aldermen annulled the ordinance, and, 
moreover, ordered that in future the examination of caps 
should be made by men of both Misteries. x Later history of 
the Cappers, who not long after fell under control of the 
Haberdashers, hardly comes within the scope of this book, but 
in the long contest between labour and machinery this very 
early example of a triumph for mechanical milling should 
possess some interest. 

The printing press and the newspapers give character to 

1 Letter Book I. Cal., p. 176-7, 



140 FLEET STREET 

modern Fleet Street, and importance, and much respectability. 
It was very different in the Middle Ages. The taverners 
flourished long before these, and judged by outward indica- 
tions, their trade equally prospers to-day. Fleet Street's 
reputation was that of a place much given to drinking and 
carousing, and its convivial life began long before journalists 
made Bohemia there, before Alsatia. Its historic taverns 
form the topic of a subsequent chapter. Just beyond Temple 
Bar, at St. Clement Danes, the " foreign " butchers, or those 
who did not possess the freedom of the City, had in the four- 
teenth century set up their shambles out of the jurisdiction of 
the Mayor, and in the same lawless quarter there sprang up 
among them a foul nest of ale-houses and taverns and resorts 
of the most infamous kind. It was singular that the least 
desirable of these associations should have lingered about 
Holywell Street and Wych Street down to the day of their 
demolition in recent memory. 

The ale-wife was, perhaps, the typical figure of the street. 
Indeed, Mr. Riley, in his introduction to the City's Liber Albus 
states that down to the close of the fifteenth century, if not 
later, Fleet Street was almost wholly tenanted by ale-wives 
and felt-cap makers ; the trade, he adds, was in the hands of 
women, who sold an ale of their own brewing. It may be 
that this generalisation is too sweeping, for in a still extant list 
of London brewers compiled in the reign of King Henry the 
Fifth, out of about 300 names only fifteen are those of women. 
A proportion may have been merely hucksters, frequenting the 
street to retail ale, though the trend of civic legislation, as 
shown in various orders, was to restrict the vending of ale to 
those who brewed it. 

The women were called brewsters ; the name survives in 
Brewster Sessions, though its feminine application has been 
forgotten. That the trade was held in low estimation is 
evident from the ignominious punishments served out to 
defaulters, and from the restrictions with which it was hedged 
about. 

A thin ale was brewed, no better than sweet wort, and so 
innocuous that it might be drunk " in potations pottle deep " 
without disturbing the mental balance. It may be significant 
of the capacity of the early citizens that the smallest measure 
mentioned in the Liber Albus is a quart. The source of all 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 141 

London's ale was the silver Thames, and there are regulations 
by the City authorities that brewers shall not draw from the 
river when it is turbid, but wait until low water and the turn of 
the tide. " The water-gate at the Whitefriars" is specifically 
mentioned as one of the drawing places in the third year of 
Elizabeth. 

Let no one imagine that the brewers were not alive to the 
advantages of spring water brought by the conduit. At one 
time they so crowded the fountain in Chepe and wasted the 
supply that " rich and middling persons for the preparation 
of their food and the poor for their drink " could get none, 
and the brewers were ordered away in 1343, under penalty for 
the first offence of forfeiting the tankard or vessel in which 
the water was carried, on a second conviction fine, and on a 
third imprisonment. No doubt the same misuse had to be 
guarded against at the Fleet Street conduit. 

Looking up Fleet Street, where a ragged line of mean dwel- 
lings screened the great houses on the river bank, the traveller 
might have been impressed less by the noisy tradesmen shouting 
for custom, or by the buildings themselves, than by the signs 
which swung from each house-front. Strange devices were 
some of these, glaring in primitive colours ; animals, birds, 
the sun and stars, and others it would be difficult to classify — 
and, in addition, trades had their representative symbols, 
just as the barber to-day hangs out his ribbon-pole and the 
pawnbroker the three brass balls, each to signify his calling. 
None were at more pains to attract attention than the 
taverners, who stuck out their ale-stakes well over the high- 
way. In fact, in Richard the Second's time these projections 
from the taverns in the Cheap and elsewhere had already become 
a public obstruction, " to the impeding of riders and others, 
and by reason of their excessive weight, to the detriment of 
the houses in which they are fixed " — which says little for the 
stability of the houses. The Mayor and Aldermen ordered, 
under penalty of forty pence, that no ale-stake bearing either 
sign or leaves should in future be of greater length than seven 
feet at the most. 

Some old signs can be identified. Could they be hoisted 
together, irrespective of any particular year of origin, they 
would make a fair presentation of the signed houses in Fleet 
Street in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Adam 



142 FLEET STREET 

Wade had shops in the street called " Helle " — I cannot 
imagine what pictorial sign served for this eligible property — 
which on his death in 1310 he directed should be sold. l John 
de Chichestre's house in Fleet Street in 1380 was called Top- 
feldes Inn. 2 A brewhouse, with seld, was kept by Johanna, 
relict of Thomas Beauflour, in 1326. 3 Then there were others 
" on the hoop," a favourite device of the signmaker, like 
the Welshman on the Hoop, of whose existence in 1391 we 
learn in somewhat curious fashion. 4 The Key on the Hoop 
swung over the street close to the Carmelite Priory, and the 
St. Andrew's Cross on the Hoop by Chancery Lane. The 
Tabard and The George were signs by the Shoe Lane corner. 6 
William Newland, a wealthy citizen, till his death in 1425 
showed the sign of The Sword in Fleet Street. 6 

Le Crane on the Hoop was a brewery standing towards St. 
Dunstan's Church, which Thomas Knolles, grocer, dying in 
1435, left to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. 7 There was 
nothing incongruous in the gift in these days, when the Cathe- 
dral had its own brewery, and brewings took place there twice 
a week throughout the year. The Boar's Head by Water Lane 
(now Whitefriars Street) has been already mentioned as a grant 
to the Carmelite Friars in 1443 ; it survived for more than four 
centuries in the street as a tavern, giving its name to Boar's Head 
Alley, in the sanctuary. The Bolt-in-Tun (1443) still repre- 
sented by what was the old coaching office and a fragment 
of the yard, was also a Carmelite house. The Hand, by Middle 
Temple Gate, The Bell, opposite, The Castle Tavern, standing in 
1432 near the Fleet conduit, and The Feathers, were others. 

Interesting above all these is " Le Horn on the Hoop," for 
that was the sign of Anderton's Hotel in Fleet Street, and 

1 Husting Wills, i, 212. 

2 ibid., ii, 219. This name occurs again two centuries later, when 
certain sugar refiners petitioned Queen Elizabeth for a restricted 
licence, representing that three sugar houses, one being " Topesfield 
in Water Lane," Fleet Street, were sufficient to serve her Majesty's 
dominions as heretofore, and that the others should be cut off. State 
Papers (Domestic), 1595, Aug. 

3 ibid., i, 321. 

4 See page 147 post. 

* Strype, Book 3, pp. 257, 265. Husting Wills, ii, 469. 

• Furnival, Fifty Earliest English Wills (Camden Society), p. 65. 
» Husting Wills, ii, 475. 




From " The Home Counties' Magazine" 

EARLY BUILDINGS OF UNKNOWN DATE 



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From a print in Hughson's " Description of London " 

ANCIENT HOUSES IN FLEET STREET 




Photograph by Mr. I- ■ Neville Piggott 



OLD SERJEANTS INN, CHANCERY LANE 
Demolished in 1910. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 143 

can be traced back to 1385. John Phippe, a currier, then kept 
the house, 1 and I expect that French wines were very early 
being dispensed to customers, for it has been a tavern certainly 
for the greater part of that long period. Thomas Atte Have, 
the next owner, had also a brewery called the Horse-shoe on 
Ludgate Hill. 

Thomas Atte Haye was a flourishing goldsmith. Like 
others of his craft, he lived in Chepe. He had many possessions, 
and these, on his death in 1405, he left to Matilda his wife for 
life, directing that on her demise his property, including " le 
horn on the hoop in the parish of St. Dunstan in Fletestrete," 
should pass to the wardens and commonalty of the Mistery of 
Goldsmiths of London, to be devoted to the better sustentation 
of blind and infirm members of the company. 2 May he sleep 
in peace. Five centuries have passed over his grave, and the 
Great Fire of London destroyed the church of St. Peter Chepe 
in which he lay buried, but his charity fulfils its beneficent 
purpose to this day, and pensioners of the Goldsmiths' Company, 
both men and women, continue to benefit from the old tavern- 
owner's bounty. The Goldsmiths' Company reported to the 
Livery Companies Commission in 1880 that the income of the 
charity was then £1,667 lis. 

I have carried my perhaps unsuspecting reader among the 
Husting wills — not, it will be seen, such dull, dead stuff, as 
the name might suggest. They were written by citizens long 
since gone to dust, and in the two portly volumes published 
by the City Corporation, which are a monument to the learning 
and industry of Dr. Reginald Sharpe, they form the most 
valuable addition that has been made to the sources of London's 
history of recent years. You need but glance at them to 
realise how extraordinary was the hold of the Church in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In one will after another 
rents and property are left to the Church, the dying man desiring 
the proceeds to be devoted " for the good of his soul," or for 
stipulated Masses, or for maintaining tapers before the altar 
of the Blessed Mary in St. Bride's ; much more rarely to 
succour the poor. 

Specific bequests for chantries in St. Bride's and St. Dunstan's 

1 Husting Wills, ii, 256. 
* ibid., ii, 377. 



144 FLEET STREET 

churches may be counted by the dozen. The Carmelites shared 
in the dead men's benefits, until the friars, too, came under 
the popular odium that had already overtaken the monks. 

Odd bits of humanity peep out of these documents. Dying 
in 1278, Thomas de Auverne bequeathed to his mother, Dame 
Elena, his houses in Fleet Street, and remembering his mother's 
servant Milsenda, he left her 2s. 4d. annual quit-rent. 1 
William de Wapenham, a Fleet Street sporier, desired of the 
Carmelite Friars two trentals of Masses, for which he left 
funds. 2 William de Bathe (died 1375) had a daughter Matilda, 
a nun at the convent of Ankerwyke, near Windsor, whereof 
one Alice was Prioress. To Alice he left his tenement in Shoe 
Lane for the maintenance of a chantry. Matilda had his Fleet 
Street rents. This good Catholic was in haste to escape the 
pains of Purgatory, for he required 1,000 Masses to be said for 
the good of his soul, stipulating that they should be offered 
within one month of his decease. 3 

A departed tailor, Roger Lunt (died 1387), was anxious 
about the display he should make on his final appearance 
before his fellow-townsmen, and with the provision that he 
should be buried " in the church of St. Bridgid de Fletestrete, 
under the lamp," he arranged in his will that torches were to 
be borne at his funeral, " to carry which twelve poor men are 
to be employed, clothed in gowns, with russet hoods." 4 An 
odd thing, it seems, to bury after dark, but this, no doubt, was 
an interment causa honoris. Aldermen of London who had 
rilled the office of Mayor were, by ancient usage, buried by 
torchlight with great ceremonial. Late as the Common- 
wealth the learned John Selden was interred in the Temple 
Church at night, in the presence of all the judges and many 
persons of distinction. 5 

1 Husting Wills, i, 37. 

2 ibid., 691. 

* Husting Wills, ii, 182. 

4 ibid., 265. 

6 Nocturnal funerals led to so much disorder that they were pro- 
hibited by the time of Charles the First, but there are many later 
instances. Joseph Addison, in 1717, and King George the Second in 
1760, had torchlight funerals ; Archbishop Hutton was buried at 
night at Lambeth, 1758, and John Wesley's funeral in 1791 was at so 
early an hour in the morning that lanterns and torches were required. 
(Rev. J. C. Cox, The Parish Registers of England, p. 116.) 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 145 

There is like provision by William Trippelowe, armourer, 
for torches and russet at his funeral in 1390. This worthy 
parishioner of St. Bride's, desiring to be buried in the church, 
between la porch and la looge, left many gifts : five-pence 
yearly to five poor men in honour of the five joys of the Blessed 
Virgin, to the church, to prisoners in London, to poor men and 
sick widows, to his brother and sisters, " to each of his children 
in Christ, viz. : ' Godchilders ' three shillings and four pence," 
directing that his executors should provide " for Elizabeth 
his daughter in Christ, viz. : ' Godchilde,' until marriage." * 

I find a scholar, Thomas Giles de Fletstret, a man possessing 
much property in Fleet Street, Shoe Lane, Bride Lane, and 
elsewhere, whose will, proved in the Court of Husting in 1349, 
is much too interesting to pass over. His widow, Diamanda, 
is his first care : she is well dowered, and is charged to maintain 
and educate his son Thomas as a clerk, his son John as a clerk 
or artificer, and Isabella, his daughter, in a religious order 
or as a " secular monk." Next he considers his soul : five 
pounds in weight, square or round, a taper is to burn before 
the figure of the Annunication of the Virgin Mary in St. Bride's 
church at festivals, and a lamp burning night and day before 
the high altar, and for these he leaves funds. His children, 
also well provided for, are to maintain their parents' obit. 
Then comes a glimpse of a fourteenth century scholar's library 
and house treasures — 

To the aforesaid Thomas, his son, all his books, bound and unbound, 
on the canon and civil law, literature {grammatice), dialectic, theology, 
as well as geometry and astronomy. Also to his said children divers 
specific chattels, including two cups of mazar called respectively 
" Bride " and " Balloc," and a white cup bound with a circle of silver 
gilt, having the name of Jesus enamelled at the bottom, posnets, basins, 
and ewers, beds, silver, spoons, and towels. 2 

The dead by their own hand having told us something of their 
manner of life, I now turn to contemporary records of those 
then living. Selection of, say, a dozen documents will bring 
the times more vividly to mind than anything that lies within 
my powers of description — 

King Richard the Second was on the throne when John 
Berkyng, a soothsayer, stood in the pillory. 

1 Husting Wills, ii, 281. ■ ibid., i, 557. 

ip— (3*46) 



146 FLEET STREET 

This Berkyng was lately a Jew, so he said. 

Edward de Langley, Duke of York, the fifth son of the dead 
King Edward the Third, was at that time residing in a dwelling- 
house in the parish of St. Brigid in Fletestrete, in the suburb 
of London — Salisbury Inn, for a guerdon. Great was the 
stir within that royal household when it became known that 
two silver dishes belonging to the Duke of York had been 
stolen ; eager the search for the thief. Yet no man could 
place his hand either upon the thief or upon the silver dishes. 
Whether or not his Grace believed in magic I cannot say, but 
his Council, all other hopes having disappeared, bethought 
themselves of the supernatural, and also of John Berkyng. 

Now to quote the scribe textually — 

" They asked the said John if he could tell by his magic art — 
in which art he was skilled, as it was said — what had become 
of such dishes, and who had stolen them. Which John there- 
upon, as saying that he could well understand incantations 
and the art magic, made answer to the Council, that he was very 
well able to say where the said dishes were, and who had stolen 
them. And then he falsely and maliciously asserted " — 
asserted, indeed, that none other than William Shedewater, 
serjeant to his Highness the Duke of York, had stolen them ! 

A bold magician this, with belief in his art. 

It fared ill with the luckless serjeant, who saw the royal 
favour leaving him. Denounced by the magician, he was 
arrested and imprisoned, " and in his body much injured, 
and on the point of being forced to swear that he would never 
come within ten leagues of the hostels of our Lord the King, 
the Duke of York aforesaid, or the Duke of Gloucester ; to the 
great slander of his name, and to the grievous damage of his 
body, etc." 

What exactly it was that saved William Shedewater from the 
grave peril in which he stood, banned even from approaching 
within ten leagues any of those royal residences wherein he 
had fared well and prospered in worldliness, I cannot tell ; 
but it came out that the magician had been at these dark 
practices before, and most likely that was it. Lady de 
Despencer — in times past a great name — had possessed a 
scarlet mantle, with fur of cleansed minever, which had been 
stolen from her ladyship's hostel in St. Mary Bothaw parish. 
Berkyng had in like manner been called in to trace the thief 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 147 

by his magic, and had falsely accused Robert Mysdene and John 
Geyte of the theft. 

With the tables thus effectively turned upon him, John 
Berkyng appeared before the Mayor and Aldermen at Guildhall 
in a plea of falsehood and deceit and unfounded accusations. 
All of which the humbled magician fully acknowledged, begged 
for mercy, and put himself upon the favour of the Court and 
of the prosecutors. 

The recorder of his crimes becomes sententious — 

" Deliberation having been held thereon, because that such 
soothsaying, art magic, and falsities are manifestly against 
the doctrine of Holy Writ, and a scandal and disgrace to the 
whole Commonalty of the city aforesaid, and through such 
doings murders might easily ensue, and good and lawful men 
be undeservedly aggrieved and defamed in their name and 
reputation, etc., it was awarded that the said John should 
on the same day be put upon the pillory in Cornhulle, there to 
stand for one hour of the day." 

The imagination must be left to picture the scene on the 
4th March, 1391, when John Berkyng stood in the pillory in 
Cornhill, his vaunted magic serving poorly to protect him from 
the shower of mud and ill-favoured missiles thrown by boister- 
ous apprentices, and the derisive taunts of their elders. I 
wonder if Robert Mysdene and John Geyte were there ? 

This done, he was taken back to prison for a fortnight, and 
released after swearing that he would depart from the liberty 
of the City, and would never return to the same, and that such 
soothsaying should not be practised by him for the future. x 

John Sewale stood in the pillory that same year — a poor 
type of offender, this one. 

A house known by the quaint sign of " The Welshman on 
the Hoop," stood in King Richard the Second's reign in 
Fletestret, in the parish of St. Martin without Ludgate, in the 
suburb of London. That is to say, it was in that part of old 
Fleet Street beyond the Fleet River which we now call Ludgate 
Hill. Nor was the spelling as I have given it, for the sign was 
French, " Le Walssheman sur le Hoope." 

Sewale, a sorry rogue, went to a cloth-maker in Smithfield, 

1 Letter Book H. Memorials, p. 519. 



148 FLEET STREET 

as we may go to Cloth Fair there to-day. The name remains, 
and the old houses survive, with overhanging fronts, built 
before the Great Fire of London, and, better still, the Old Dick 
Whittington public-house, whose venerable walls date back 
to the fifteenth century ; but the cloth makers have long since 
left the Fair. It was then a district wherein the hand-loom 
and the shuttle were kept busily working. 

The rogue ordered certain baudekyn and satyn. The last 
speaks for itself ; baudekyn, it may be explained, was a costly 
cloth made of silk, interwoven with threads of gold. It was 
a good order, and the shopman was persuaded to let his servant, 
John Duff eld, carry the cloths to " The Welshman on the 
Hoop," where they were to be received by Sewale's master, 
who would pay for them. The two set out with the load, 
and arrived at the house in Fleet Street, which they entered. 
In a certain room Sewale ordered the clothman's servant to 
lay the goods upon a bed there, which done he made him 
and other persons leave the room, and then shut the door with 
a key and bolted it, saying that his master would be there 
presently to look at them. 

The tricks of thieves are very old, and in this case the ruse 
succeeded. Duffeld, the servant, remained in the hall of the 
house " five hours in the day and more," waiting for the return 
of the master, while the thief had already gone away with the 
cloths by another exit. However, retribution overtook him, 
and he stood in the pillory, and left us this record of his crime 1 
— and with it the interesting sign of a house which stood in 
Fleet Street more than 500 years ago. 

The Walssheman, with the sign so shortened, was still in 
Flete Strete when Henry the Eighth reigned, and having 
fallen to the Crown was granted by that monarch on the 22nd 
June, 1524, to Edmund Knyvet, serjeant at the King's gate, 
at the picturesque annual rental of one red rose. 2 

William Lawtone, forger, stood in the pillory, with his 
forged letter tied about his neck. Lucky was he in his day, for 
had he lived four centuries later he would certainly have been 
hanged for that crime. 

1 Letter Book H. Memorials, p. 525. 

■ Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol, 4 (1) p. 196 ; vol. 1, No. 1387. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 149 

In the fourth year of King Richard the Second (1380) there 
lived in Fleet Street one William Savage, whom I take to have 
been a goldsmith. Before banks were instituted, the gold- 
smiths, with " running cashes," did much of the money trans- 
actions of the day. On the Monday before Whitsuntide there 
came to him there William Lawtone, a man of Lawton-under- 
the-Lyn, in the county of Chester, representing that he carried 
a letter from John Sadyngtone, of York, requiring Savage to 
pay the bearer 20s. sterling for a bargain made between John 
Sadyngtone and Lawtone. Communications with places so 
distant as York were slow, and time elapsed before the trickster 
was exposed, and more than twelve months before he was 
handed over to the law. 

At the Guildhall the prisoner could only place himself on the 
favour of the Court. It was a light sentence for such a fault 
that he should be put upon the pillory, there to remain for one 
hour of the day, proclamation being made to the gaping crowd 
around of his crime. But no doubt his judges knew that the 
City apprentices could do much hurt to a man's features in one 
hour. 

In addition to forgery, Lawtone had threatened the prose- 
cutor and other reputable men of the city as to life and limb, 
and for this he was taken back to Newgate, there to remain 
until he found sureties. * 

John Askwythe appears. His was a sad case. 

" Of his own concealment and imagining," it was charged 
against him, he had let escape " a certain Sir John, one of 
two priests in the church of St. Brigid in Fletestret, lately 
celebrating divine service there," which two had been taken 
in adultery with two women. All parish priests and curates 
in this time of King Henry the Fifth and long afterwards 
bore the courtesy title of knighthood. 

John Askwythe was a citizen and a scrivener. He had 
grown very old, and poring over parchment deeds and writing 
letters for the illiterate may have made his temper irascible. 
Doubtless also he suffered under a fancied sense of injustice. 
Be that as it may, he took the summons to attend before the 
Lord Mayor in very bad part, and with the writ in his pouch 

1 Letter Book H. Memorials, p. 442. 



150 FLEET STREET 

set forth to the house of William Sevenok, one of the Sheriffs, 
to have matters out with him. 

What actually took place at that interview is known only 
in fragmentary fashion. It is told that the scrivener violently 
laid hands upon the Sheriff, made assault upon him, taking him 
by the breast, and in a threatening manner addressed to him 
these words — 

" Thou shalt do me lawe, maugre yn thyn hert ! " (in spite of 
thine heart). 

This passage only of the conversation is preserved. The 
Sheriff seized the man who had thus dared to assail his mighti- 
ness, and sent him to the Sheriff's compter, and afterwards 
he was committed to the King's prison at Newgate. On 
reflection within those gloomy walls, the scrivener's wrath 
calmed down, and when brought before the Mayor at Guildhall 
he acknowledged his guilt. 

On account of his debility through old age, the severe 
punishment of severing the right hand, usual in such cases, 
was remitted, but John Askwythe lost his coveted freedom 
of the City, and moreover was condemned to imprisonment for 
a year and a day. * 

The case, so far as these criminous clerks were concerned, 
was not a solitary one : far from it. Near by in date (1414) 
Sir William Nechtone, also a chantry priest of St. Bride's 
Church, was brought before the Mayor and Alderman, having 
been taken in adultery with Matilda de la Mare, and it was 
ordered that he should be handed over to the Ordinary, to purge 
himself of his offence, and proclamation made that none in the 
City should henceforth hire him, under penalty of fine of twice 
the amount paid for his salary. 2 It had been the custom 
since a City ordinance of 1382 that unchaste priests should be 
taken by the ward beadle through the streets to the " Tun " 
prison upon Cornhill, with minstrels playing before, that their 
disgrace might be made public, and banished from the City 
if ever the offence were twice repeated. How low was the 
state of morality into which the chantry priests had fallen 
is evidenced by the long list of instances of the kind in Letter 
Book I, which fill several pages of Dr. Sharpe's calendar. 



1 Letter Book I. Memorials, 596. 
8 Letter Book I. Cal., p. 278. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 151 

Treason against the throne and person of King Henry the 
Fifth was hatched in Fleet Street, with the result that 
unsuccessful plotters have only right to expect. One victim 
succumbed in his loathsome mediaeval prison, a companion 
was drawn through the City to Tyburn and there hanged and 
quartered, and two others of the band, escaping the clutches 
of the law, were outlawed. 

Richard the Second, deposed at the Tower and held a prisoner, 
died at Pontefract Castle. How, none can tell ; the tragedy 
is shrouded in night. His pale corpse was brought to London, 
and there Henry Bolingbroke, firmly seated upon his throne, 
caused the remains to be exposed in St. Paul's to the populace, 
and afterwards buried in Hertfordshire. Yet there were those 
who did not accept the death of the dethroned King as 
established, but believed that he was concealed in Scotland, 
expiring at Stirling so late as 1419. 

When Bolingbroke himself had paid the debt of mortality, 
and Henry the Fifth reigned in his stead, the belief that the 
rightful King lived was still held. Many heads fell in conse- 
quence. Without doubt the man maintained by the Duke 
of Albany in Scotland as Richard Plantagenet was a rank 
impostor. This the chronicler Creton, who had been sent 
over by the French Court to identify him, did not hesitate to 
say. The fiction lured to their death, among others, Benedict 
Wolman, of London, hostiller, who had formerly filled the 
office of undermarshal of the Marchalsea in the household of 
the King, and Thomas Bekeryng, of Beckeryng, Lincolnshire, 
gentleman. 

These two active plotters met on the 18th April, 1416, at 
London, in the parish of St. Dunstan's West in Fletestrete. 
For their part, they are silent. We have only the record of 
the proceedings against them, from which it is to be gathered 
that they were taken and accused, that " falsely and traitor- 
ously compassing and imagining the death of our Lord the 
King, against their allegiance, [they] did internally con- 
federate together, and in order to bring Thomas Warde, called 
Trumpyngtone, whom they assert to be King Richard," out of 
Scotland into the kingdom of England, with intent to depose 
his reigning Majesty. 

The evidence against them seems conclusive. The conspirators 
had, with great daring, sent to the Emperor Sigismund, 



152 FLEET STREET 

King of the Romans, a petition telling him that Richard 
the Second was alive in Scotland in custody of the Duke of 
Albany, who by orders of the usurper wrongfully detained 
him from his realm. They entreated the King of the Romans 
with a strong hand and powerful arm to bring back the said 
Thomas Trumpyngtone, and raise him to the kingly power. 

Sigismund was then in England on a visit to King Henry. 
Having recently concluded a treaty of alliance, he had other 
views than to involve himself in trouble with the warlike 
Harry. He passed on the petition to the English monarch, 
and forthwith the treason was disclosed. 

A jury of twelve drawn from a panel of twenty-four men, 
" as well citizens as other good and lawful men of the venue 
of the parish of St. Dunstan's," convicted Benedict Wolman, 
whose head in due course formed a ghastly trophy over the 
tide at London Bridge. Bekeryng obtained a postponement 
of his trial, but death removed him from Henry's vengeance. 1 

Ludgate contained its accustomed number of miserable 
prisoners in the tenth year of King Henry the Fourth (1409) 
and William Kyngescote was warder over them. The new 
Sheriffs, John Lane and William Chichele, after election on 
the Eve of St. Michael (29th September), went to the gate, 
as was the custom, to receive from their predecessors in office 
the prisoners therein incarcerated. 

Such a reception awaited them as high officials like the 
Sheriffs had never known before in the City. It is recorded : 
" William Kyngescote, the then Warder of the said Gate and 
Gaol, and other persons there present, with swords and base- 
lards (a long dagger worn at the girdle) and other arms, by main 
force made resistance to them, throwing stones from the top 
of the tower there, so that neither the Sheriffs nor their officers 
could enter the prison or gaol. For the said William Kynges- 
cote and his accomplices asserted and affirmed that he, the 
same William, would keep under his charge the said gate, 
and the prisoners there, and would on no account deliver them 
up to the said Sheriffs.'* 

It seems that the hot-blooded warder had right on his side, 
for the care of the gate and prison had been given to him 

1 Letter Book I. Memorials, p. 639. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 153 

conditionally, and by the aid of his friends he had been at 
certain charges in the repair of the gate and the rooms built 
over it, and for the benefit of the prisoners. 

The Mayor and Aldermen, to whom Kyngescote submitted, 
not denying his rebelliousness, took most serious notice of the 
matter. They expelled him from the keepership, declaring 
him incapable of holding any City office in future, with com- 
mittal for a year's imprisonment. On the Sheriffs' entreaty 
the imprisonment was remitted, and a few months afterwards 
his freedom of the City was restored. x 

I have before brought the Mayor into Fleet Street. An 
incident may be recalled wherein, as was rare, he cut a ludicrous 
figure. No Mayor possessed more power than Nicholas 
Brembre, grocer, five times occupant of that office, who ruled 
the City despotically from 1384 to 1386 ; none was more 
loyally served by his placemen, none more bitterly opposed 
by the citizens with whose liberties he interfered. He was 
leader of the great victualling Companies, and fought and fell 
in the battle of Protection (then, more accurately, monopoly) 
against Free Trade — for nothing is new, as often there has 
been cause to remark when going over the old City records. 

The trouble began with fish. It comprised, however, much 
else : corruption, the clash of parties, hatred of the foreigner, 
(non-freeman), the loud demands of the people, ever swelling 
in volume, for more effective participation in the City's govern- 
ment, jealousy of the King's power. Brembre became a chief 
adviser and financier of the young Sovereign. Altogether, the 
early years of King Richard the Second's reign were the most 
exciting time through which the civic institutions of London 
have passed. Wat Tyler's revolt filled a lurid page. In the 
following year the City reformers gained the upper hand, 
and John of Northampton, their leader, filled the mayor's 
chair for two years. 

Northampton's character has been drawn by Thomas of 
Walsingham, who viewed his doings with no friendly eye : 
" He was a man of unflinching purpose and great astuteness, 
elated by his wealth, and so proud that he could neither get 
on with his inferiors, nor be deterred by the suggestions or 

1 Letter Book I. Memorials, p. 574. 



154 FLEET STREET 

warnings of his superiors from striving to carry out his drastic 
ideas to the bitter end." Brembre's early triumphs were 
reversed. The hated foreigner was reinstated in his privileges, 
and the monopoly of the City retailer withdrawn. In two 
years popular feeling turned against Northampton, and 
Brembre rose again to the mayoralty on the tide of reaction. 

In January, 1384-5, Brembre complained to the King of 
Northampton's rebelliousness against the Mayor, and the 
reformer was bound in sureties to keep the peace. I quote 
Mr. Unwin — 

" Early in February, as the Mayor was dining in Wood 
Street with Sir Richard Waldegrave and a number of aldermen, 
he received tidings that Northampton was marching at the 
head of 500 followers through Chepe in the direction of Ludgate. 
He despatched a messenger to bid them halt, and hurried after 
with the Sheriffs. Twice Northampton ignored the messenger, 
but when on passing Fleet Bridge he looked back and saw 
Brembre in pursuit, he called a halt, and parting his men to 
right and left, waited to receive him. The zeal of the Mayor 
had outrun the discretion of his followers, and, turning round, 
he found himself alone in the midst of his enemies, and looking 
rather ridiculous. Once, twice, thrice, by word and gesture, 
he bade them follow him. Not a man stirred. Thus, says the 
record, did John Northampton show himself a rebel and make 
himself the equal of the Mayor. At last the ex-Mayor led 
the way to the church of the Carmelites, where, it seems, 
it had been the peaceful intention to hear a Mass for the soul 
of the Earl of Nottingham's brother, and having thus proved 
at once his innocence and his power, he allowed Brembre to 
arrest him, and to imprison him in the mayoral residence." * 

In the tumultuous years that followed, Nicholas Brembre 
was hanged on a gallows, for even a Mayor of London has 
swung so high. 

Little as well as great were the duties of the Mayor, and 
paternal to an extent which would embarrass the present 
occupant of that office. John de Radeclive, son of John de 



1 The Gilds and Companies of London, by George Unwin. The 
bulk of the materials for this eventful period of the City's history are 
in Letter Book H. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 155 

Radeclive called taillour, of London, had a portion of his 
left ear bitten off by a savage horse belonging to Clement 
Spice, his master, to such a degree that the ear remained 
unhealed. Now that was a most serious matter in days of 
punishment by mutilation, for it would appear to all from 
whom he sought employment that this John was a thief, and 
had suffered the clipping of his ear for his roguery. He 
petitioned Adam de Bury, Mayor, and the City Aldermen, on the 
4th December in the year 1365. 

In order that his character might not suffer by incurring 
suspicion of his having been punished for theft or other matter, 
the Mayor granted letters patent under the seal of the mayor- 
alty testifying to the truth, 1 and these John de Radeclive 
carried in his pouch. 

Who will tell off-hand when trial by battle ceased in England ? 

I have spoken of Walter le Brun, farrier and armourer of 
St. Clement Danes, for the site of whose forge a quit-rent of 
horse-shoes and nails is to this day paid to the Sovereign by 
the City. 

William Catur, " an armorer dwelling in S. Dunstons parish 
in Fleetstreet," was in worse case with his King. His own 
man, John David, impeached him of treason. Catur declaring 
that he was not guilty of treason, and that he would defend 
the same with his body, a day was assigned to them to fight in 
Smithfield. " The master being well beloved, was so cherished 
by his friends and plied with wine, that being therewith 
overcome he was unluckily slain by his servant. But that 
false servant (for he falsely accused his master) lived not long 
unpunished, for he was after hanged at Tyburn for felony." 2 
This occurred as late as the year 1446. 

Shakespeare has used this historic episode in the long 
annals of Fleet Street for an effective passage in the Second 
Part of King Henry VI, Act ii, Sc. 3, but has turned the issue 
round to his purpose. Eleanor Cobham and her guilty accom- 
plices having been despatched, there enter the hall of justice 
the armourer (here called Horner) and his neighbours, drinking 
to him so deeply that he is drunk ; he comes with a drum 

1 Calendar of Letters, City of London (1350 to 1370), p. 125. 

2 Stow's Annals. 



156 FLEET STREET 

before him and his staff with a sand-bag fastened to it ; and at 
the other door his man (called Peter) with a drum and sand-bag, 
and Prentices drinking to him. The man fears his master's 
skill, " he hath learnt so much fence already." The King 
and Queen see the quarrel tried — 

Horner. Masters, I am come hither, as it were, upon my man's 
instigation, to prove him a knave and myself an honest 
man ; and touching the Duke of York, I will take my 
death, I never meant him any ill, nor the king, nor 
the queen : and therefore, Peter, have at thee with a 
downright blow ! 

York. Dispatch : this knave's tongue begins to double. 
Sound, trumpets, alarum to the combatants ! 

[Alarum. They fight, and Peter strikes him down. 

Horner. Hold, Peter, hold ! I confess, I confess treason. [Dies. 

York. Take away his weapon. Fellow, thank God, and the 
good wine in thy master's way. 

Peter. O God, have I overcome mine enemy in this presence ? 
O Peter, thou hast prevailed in right ! 

King. Go, take hence that traitor from our sight ; 
For by his death we do perceive his guilt : 
And God in justice hath reveal'd to us 
The truth and innocence of this poor fellow, 
Which he had thought to have murder'd wrongfully. 
Come, fellow, follow us for thy reward. 

[Sound a flourish. Exeunt. 

As a plain fact, trial by battle survived as English law 
until the year 1818, when in the famous case of Ashford v. 
Thornton Lord Ellenborough, with the concurrence of his 
brother justices, ordered a battle to be fought, according to 
the ancient rules, in the presence of the judges of the King's 
Bench. Richard Thornton had been acquitted at Warwick 
Assize of the murder of Mary Ashford, and the girl's brother 
brought an appeal of murder. Whereupon the defendant 
Thornton appeared, and throwing down his glove on the floor 
of the court, declared that he was not guilty of murder, and 
would defend the same with his body. The battle failed, the 
appellant having cried craven, and by the 59th George III, c. 46, 
this mode of trial was immediately after abolished. 

Thomas, son of Sir Nicholas Griffyn, was born in Salisbury 
Court, Fleet Street (formerly Salisbury Alley) in 1496, and 
baptised in St. Bride's Church. The knight, whose wide 
estates lay at Braybrooke, Northants, died when his heir was 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 157 

yet young, and as the lad attained his majority and inherited, 
it became necessary to prove his age. Not so simple as nowa- 
days, for until Thomas Cromwell, the eighth Henry's powerful 
minister, made the matter compulsory, parish registers were not 
generally kept. So in due order an inquest was assembled 
at St. Bride's, with the Mayor, Thomas Exmen, who was also 
King's Escheator for the City, and fifteen jurymen, who took 
oath. 

John Hoxson, gentleman, aged seventy years and more, 
affirmed to the escheator and jurors that Thomas Griff yn was 
born on the Sunday next before the Feast of the Nativity of 
Our Lord, in the twelfth year of King Henry the Seventh's 
reign. This he knew because he lived in " Salysbury Aley," 
in the same house of John Thornbourgh, gentleman, and in a 
room next adjoining that in which the said Thomas was born, 
and at the time of the birth he prayed to Christ for the well 
being (bona expedic'oe) of the Lady Alice, the child's mother, 
Joan Basse also swore to the date, having herself six days before 
given birth to a son, John Basse, who, had he lived, would at 
that day have been twenty-one years of age. Other witnesses 
were present at the baptism ; and Richard Clerk, hosier, 
remembered that he made a pair of hose for Sir Nicholas, to be 
worn at the purification of the Lady Alice. 

The jury found on their oath that Thomas Griff yn, son of 
Sir Nicholas, was of full twenty-one years. * 

A phase of the life of the street common through all the 
mediaeval era, when outbreaks of lawlessness were repressed 
by the City authorities with a curious mixture of severity and 
superstition, is mirrored in the story of William Hughlot. 
It takes us back once more to the time when Richard the 
Second was a youthful monarch, and the bright promise 
with which his kingship began had not yet been darkly 
overshadowed. 

Within Temple Bar, in the parish of St. Dunstan's West in 
Fletestrete, was a shop kept by John Elyngham, a barber. 
By force of arms William Hughlot entered, and drawing his 
dagger, wounded, beat, and maltreated the luckless barber, 

1 Inq. post mortem, City of London (British Record Society), pt. 
1, p. 40. 



158 FLEET STREET 

for what offence I know not. The dutiful wife was sore 
affrighted. Perceiving John Rote, Alderman, passing along 
the King's highway towards the church of St. Dunstan, " with 
great outcry she called aloud for him to come and help her 
husband, whom the same William was trying to slay. Where- 
fore the said Alderman, by reason of the office which he held, 
whereby he was bound to the utmost of his power to help to 
maintain the peace, as being an officer of the King, went 
there, and commanded the said William to desist from his 
violent and evil conduct, and surrender himself to the peace 
of our Lord the King." 

But William Hughlot refused to yield himself up, and with 
the dagger attacked the Alderman himself, and would have 
struck him therewith ; whereupon the Alderman seized the 
hand in which he held the blade, and forced him to return it 
to its sheath. Then Hughlot, persisting in his malice, drew 
his sword upon the Alderman, and would have slain him with 
it, so the City's record declares, had not the Alderman manfully 
defended himself. 

John Wilman was one of the constables of Fletestrete. 
Hearing the affray, he ran into the barber's shop, and seeing 
that the maddened Hughlot was trying to slay the Alderman 
with his sword — a greater offence against the City's dignity 
than would have been a massacre of princes — " went up to him 
and attempted to arrest him ; but he refused to submit to such 
arrest, and again drawing his dagger, wounded the constable 
with it " — all this, as the chronicler in Latin sententiously adds, 
as well in contempt of our Lord the King as to the dishonour 
of the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, etc. 

Nicholas Extone, Mayor, the Aldermen and Sheriffs 
assembled in Guildhall on the 13th January, 1387, to deliberate 
on this grave matter, the crime having been committed on the 
Saturday then last past. Hughlot admitted his guilt when 
called upon to plead ; but meantime he had made matters 
worse for himself by his indiscretions in prison. That same 
day he was interrogated, " for that, while he was imprisoned 
in the Gaol of Newgate for the trespass and contempt before 
mentioned, there in the presence of Richard Jardevile, Robert 
Hallokestone, David Bertevile, John Walworth, and John 
Horwode, and many others, as was truthfully attested, he 
threatened the Mayor and Aldermen aforesaid, and said 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 159 

that he had to thank Nicholas Extone for his imprisonment, 
but that perhaps in seven years or so to come he would find all 
his lords and friends forsaking him ; and also, he said that the 
Court of the Guildhall of London was the very worst and most 
false Court in all England, for condemning him without hearing 
his answer, etc/' 

Flat burglary as ever was committed, as Dogberry would 
have said ; a scandal to the city and a slander upon its officers. 
The prisoner also pleaded guilty to this charge, and put himself 
upon the favour of the Court. The recorder of the case is at 
pains to show the baselessness of the man's accusations, no 
judgment having, in fact, been given ; he emphasises the 
heinousness of such words, " being uttered expressly to the 
disgrace and dishonour of our Lord the King, and of all his 
officers and courtiers in the same city, and more especially 
such an officer as the Mayor of London is ; seeing that he is 
the immediate representative of our Lord the King within the 
City, which is the most excellent and most noble city in the 
realm, etc." 

After remand, Hughlot was again brought up by the keeper 
of Newgate. The document goes on to recite that precept has 
oftentimes been orally given, as well by the King as by his 
Council, that the Mayor and Aldermen should diligently keep 
the peace in the City and its suburbs, his dwelling place, " as 
being the most safe and secure place in the realm ; and also 
because that there is a greater resort, as well of lords and 
nobles as of common people to that City, than to any other 
places in the realm, as well on account of the Courts there of 
our said Lord the King, as for transacting business there ; 
and therefore there is the greater need for good governance 
therein, and of peace in especial ; and more particularly, seeing 
that it is the capital city and watch-tower of the whole realm, 
and that for the government thereof other cities and places 
do take example " — and so on interminably. These old clerks 
at Guildhall, who wrote in Latin, were masters of much verbiage, 
though to the point when necessary. 

The upshot of this long dissertation is the stern judgment, 
delivered by the Mayor for the full court, that the right hand 
of William Hughlot, with which he first drew the dagger, and 
afterwards drew his sword upon the Alderman, should be cut 
off. It was the least punishment befitting such an offence. 



160 FLEET STREET 

Precept was given to the Sheriffs of London to see the sentence 
executed. 

The sequel stops short of mutilation. An axe was brought 
into Court by an officer of the Sheriffs, and the hand of the 
prisoner laid upon the block, there to be cut off : " Whereupon 
the said John Rote, in reverence for our Lord the King, and at 
the request of divers lords who entreated for the said William, 
begged of the Mayor and Aldermen that execution of the judg- 
ment aforesaid might be remitted unto him, etc. x At whose 
entreaty execution thereof was accordingly remitted." 

So Hughlot saved his right hand. For the trespass and 
assault upon the barber and the constable the accused was to 
be imprisoned for a year and a day, unless he should meet 
with an increase of favour from the Mayor and Aldermen, 
and for his false words assailing the Mayor and the Court he 
was condemned " to suffer the disgraceful punishment of the 
pillory, with a whetstone hung from his neck, in token of his 
being a liar." The pillory ordeal was, however, remitted, 
and instead it was ordered that on leaving prison he should 
carry from the Guildhall, through Chepe and Fletestrete, a 
lighted wax candle of three pounds weight to the Church of 
St. Dunstan before mentioned, and there make offering of 
the same. And he was to find sureties for good behaviour. 

The man suffered barely nine days of his imprisonment, 
for on Tuesday, the Feast of St. Vincent (the 22nd January) 
then next ensuing, his further detention was remitted by 
favour of the Mayor and Aldermen, and he was mainprised 
by substantial men, four being esquires, with a draper, a gold- 
smith, and two tailors, each under a penalty of £100 — a sum 
representing some fifteen times its present value. " And on 
the same day he bore the said candle from the Guildhall to the 
Church aforesaid, and there made offering of the same. And 
after that, he was released." 2 So the record preserved in the 
Letter Books ends. 

The penitential procession to St. Dunstan's Church, the 
culprit barefooted and bearing the lighted candle in his hand, 



1 The numerous " etc.," by the way, are not my own, but are freely 
used by the writer of the document to cover any possible omissions on 
his part. 

2 Letter Book H. Memorials, p. 490 et seq. 



ANNALS OF THE MIDDLE AGES 161 

and attended by officers from the City and the prison, no doubt 
made an imposing display as it passed up the narrow way of 
Fleet Street, and from the windows of the overhanging houses 
one may imagine curious faces peering out upon William 
Hughlot's humiliation. 

There are one or two things in this document which must 
strike even the casual reader. It needs no keen perception to 
realise that behind lies a good deal that is not expressly stated. 
Why was this man treated with such leniency in an age when 
barbarous punishments were more frequent than clemency, 
for his offence was rank ? The reiteration, almost to the point 
of tediousness, with which the clerk emphasises the dishonour 
done to the King himself, and the Mayor, his chief representa- 
tive in the City, the lords entreating for the prisoner, and the 
substantial nature of the sureties, suggest that Hughlot — 
sentenced to the pillory and made to do public penance though 
he might be — was a man of standing. 

A guess to this effect was made sure when, searching the 
Liber Albus, that wonderful survey of London's government 
compiled in 1419 by John Carpenter, Common Clerk, and that 
famous Mayor, Sir Richard Whitington, I came upon a passage 
instancing this case as an example of how persons are to be 
chastised when guilty of assaults upon Aldermen. l Hughlot 
is there described as being an esquire, then dwelling with the 
Bishop of Bath, and an official of the Receipts of the King — 
no doubt receiver of fines, or receiver of the King's rents. 

John Carpenter, who adds this information to the record, 
may well have had the incident in memory, may possibly 
himself have witnessed the procession along Fleet Street, 
for it occurred some thirty years before he made the entry in 
the " White Book." 

Why should a whetstone be the token of a liar ? 

I have found no better explanation than that it was an 
emblem of derision, hung round the culprit's neck jocularly to 
infer that his invention, if he continued to employ it so freely, 
would require sharpening. Its use was common and well 
understood in the fourteenth century. William Bertram, 
for slandering the Mayor, was judged in 1383 to be put upon 
the pillory, there to stand for one hour of the day, with one 

1 Liber Albus, Riley's trans., p. 32. 
ii — (2246) 



162 FLEET STREET 

large whetstone round his neck in token of the lie he had 
uttered against the Mayor, and another smaller whetstone in 
token of the lie he had told against a lesser personage. 

In like manner John de Hakford in 1364 was brought out 
of Newgate once in each quarter during his year's imprisonment 
and exposed for three hours on the pillory, with a whetstone 
hung by a chain from his neck and lying on his breast, marked 
with the words, " A false liar." 

Fleet Street is now given over to the newspapers. I believe 
it is not possible to purchase a whetstone in the Fleet Street 
shops to-day. 



CHAPTER VII 

A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 

[London. The Temple Garden] 

Suffolk. Within the Temple-hall we were too loud ; 

The garden here is more convenient. 

Plantagenet. Let him that is a true-born gentleman, 
And stands upon the honour of his birth, 
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth, 
From off this brier pluck a white rose with me. 

Somerset. Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer, 

But dare maintain the party of the truth, 
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me. 

Plantagenet. Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset ? 

Somerset. Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet ? 

• • • • 

Warwick. This brawl to-day 

Grown to this faction, in the Temple-garden, 
Shall send, between the red rose and the white, 
A thousand souls to death and deadly night. 

King Henry VI, Part I, Act ii, Sc. 4. 

Kings and Queens, some favoured by fortune, others ill-fated, 
flit rapidly by, going to Westminster. 

King Henry the Third rode this way, bringing from Canter- 
bury his bride, Eleanor of Provence. The Mayor, Aldermen, 
and principal citizens, to the number of 360, sumptuously 
apparelled in silver robes, richly embroidered, and mounted 
upon stately horses, attended him to Westminster. Each 
man carried a gold or silver cup in his hand, in token of the 
privilege claimed by the City of being the Chief Butler of the 
kingdom at the Coronation. Rich silks, pageants, and a 
variety of pompous shows in the streets. At night the glitter 
of an infinite number of lamps and cressets. l 

King Edward the First, returning from the Holy Land nearly 
two years after his father's death to ascend the English throne, 
came to London on the 2nd August, 1274. The Sovereign was 
welcomed with all expressions of joy that could be devised. 
The City Aldermen and burgesses threw out of their windows 
handfuls of gold and silver, to signify their great gladness, and 



1 Mathew Paris. 



163 



164 FLEET STREET 

the conduits ran plentifully with wine, white and red, that every 
creature might drink his fill. * 

King Richard the Second was received by the citizens : the 
year 1393 : the citizens in subdued mood. They had lost 
their privileges, forfeited by the young tyrant, but made a 
brave show ; pageants in Chepe, with humble petition for a 
return of the Royal favour, and more to the purpose, a gold 
tablet of the Trinity of the value of £800 as a gift to the King, 
and to the Queen a gold tablet of St. Anne. After prayers 
had been offered at St. Paul's, the monarch, attended by the 
Mayor and his company, passed on to Westminster. 2 

Six years later shouts of " Long live the good Duke of 
Lancaster, our deliverer ! " greeted Richard's ears as he came 
a captive to the Tower. 

Henry the Fourth rode to his Coronation on Saint Edward's 
day. A Sunday afternoon, the 12th October, 1399. Bare- 
headed the King passed, through streets decorated with 
tapestries and rich hangings, his son, the Prince of Wales, six 
Dukes, six Earls, and eighteen Barons attending, " and in all, 
Knights and Squires, a nine-hundred horse." Richard's 
conqueror for this triumph had dressed in a short coat of cloth 
of gold, German fashion, the garter encircling his left knee, 
and bestrode a white courser. Thus he rode through London — 

Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, 

Which his aspiring master seem'd to know, 

With slow but stately pace kept on his course, 

While all tongues cried, " God save thee, Bolingbroke ! " 

With the monarch went prodigious numbers of gentlemen, 
every lord's servant in his master's livery, all the burgesses 
and the Lombard merchants in London, and every craft with 
its livery and device, the whole cavalcade amounting to six- 
thousand horse. Thus he was conveyed to Westminster, 
and the same day and the next in London seven conduits ran 
with wine, white and red. 3 

King Henry the Fifth came fresh from the glorious field of 
Agincourt. The long day's pageantry ended when the 
" warlike Harry " had paid his devotions at St. Paul's ; 

1 Matthew of Westminster. 

2 Fabyan. 

* Froissart's Chronicles. 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 165 

and Fleet Street, through which he rode to his palace at 
Westminster, had no part in the ceremonial. 

Then an infant monarch, to be known to history as Henry 
the Sixth. His mother, borne along seated in an open chair, 
held him up to the admiration of the citizens, and so they passed 
through the City to the Parliament, which acknowledged him as 
King. 

A Queen's procession. Elizabeth of York, Consort of Henry 
the Seventh, passed to her Coronation. The narrative in Ives' 
Select Papers is detailed. Carried in a litter covered with 
white cloth of gold, and furnished with large pillows of down 
encased with the same, she went through London to West- 
minster. Her apparel was white cloth of gold of damask, 
with a mantle of the same furred with ermine, fastened before 
her breast with a great lace of gold and silk, and rich nobs of 
gold, tasselled at the ends ; her fair yellow hair hanging down 
plain behind her back, with a cawl of pipes over it, and con- 
fined only on the forehead by a circlet of gold, ornamented 
with precious stones. 

Twelve Knights of the Body, who changed by four and four 
at stated points, bore the litter. Before rode the Duke of 
Bedford, the King's uncle, as High Steward of England, and 
many other noblemen, with whom went the Mayor of London 
and Garter King of Arms, and fourteen newly-created Knights 
of the Bath, in their blue bachelor gowns. There were children 
in the streets, " some arrayed like angels, and others like 
virgins, to sing sweet songs as her Grace passed by." 

After the litter Sir Roger Colton, the Queen's Master of the 
Horse, leading a horse of estate, with a woman's saddle of 
red cloth of gold tissue ; six henchmen riding on white palfreys, 
with saddles to match the saddle of estate, and their harness 
ornamented with the Rose en Soleil, the badge of Edward the 
Fourth. Then two chariots, covered with cloth of gold, the 
first containing the Duchess of Bedford and the Lady Cecily, 
the Queen's sister, and the other the Duchess of Norfolk, the 
Duchess of Suffolk, and the Countess of Oxford. Then six 
Baronesses, in suits of crimson velvet, upon fair palfreys, 
caparisoned like the horses of the henchmen. Then two more 
chariots, and lastly, on palfreys, the remainder of the Queen's 
ladies who were wonderfully richly bedecked with great 
beads and chains of gold about their necks. 



166 FLEET STREET 

Note the emblem of the white rose borne on the horse 
accoutrements. There is history in it. King Henry the 
Seventh's marriage with Elizabeth of York marked the final 
reconciliation after the long strife between the houses of York 
and Lancaster. 

King Henry the Eighth, with Queen Catherine, a newly- 
made bride, passed this way from the Tower, the 24th June, 
1509, to his Coronation next day. The King was radiant and 
happy, his Royal conscience unseared as yet by the searching s 
of religion, youthful in years and spirit, and with undiminished 
popularity ; a fine figure of a man, upright, lacking the 
grossness of his later portraits. Listen to the courtly Hall — 

" The features of his Grace's body," breaks forth the ancient 
chronicler, " his goodly personage, his amiable visage, his 
princely countenance, with the noble qualities of his royal 
estate, to every man known, need no rehearsal ; yet, partly 
to describe his apparel, it is to be noted that his Grace wore 
uppermost a robe of crimson velvet, furred with ermines, his 
jacket or coat of raised gold, the placard embroidered with 
diamonds, rubies, emeralds, great pearls, and other rich 
stones ; a great baudrick about his neck of great balasses." 
The trapper of his horse was of damask gold, with a deep 
purfle of ermines. Such magnificence necessarily outshone the 
Queen. 

Barons of the Five Ports bore over his Grace the canopy, 
or cloth of estate. Near rode two persons of good estate, 
bearing the King's cloak and hat, whose apparel was both 
of goldsmiths' work and embroidery, the edges and borders 
being fretted with gold of damask, and their horses trapped 
in burnished silver, drawn over with cords of green silk and gold. 
His Knights and Esquires for his body were in crimson velvet. 
I omit much else, only to mention that " upon great coursers " 
there came " the nine children of Honour, apparelled in blue 
velvet, powdered with fleurs-de-lis of gold, and chains of 
goldsmiths' work, each of their horses trapped with a trapper 
of the King's title, as of England and France, Gascoigne, 
Guienne, Normandy, Anjou, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, etc., 
wrought upon velvets with embroidery and goldsmiths' 
work." 

The Queen sat in a littei borne by two white palfreys, 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 167 

trapped in white cloth of gold. Her person was apparelled 
in white satin embroidered, her hair hanging down her back 
to a very great length, beautiful and goodly to behold ; and 
on her head was a coronet set with many rich orient stones. 
Lords, Knights, Esquires, and Gentlemen were in her retinue. 
Next after her Majesty followed six honourable personages on 
white palfreys, all apparelled in cloth of gold ; and then several 
chariots, containing ladies, every one after her degree, in 
cloth of gold, cloth of silver, tinsels, and velvet, with em- 
broideries ; the complements of the chariots, and the draught 
harnesses, powdered with ermines mixed with cloth of gold. 

" And so/' says Hall, " with much joy and honour they came 
to Westminster." 

Four-and-twenty eventful years passed. Catherine of 
Aragon was Consort no more. Another Queen came to her 
Coronation, whom Henry awaited at Whitehall. With some 
misgiving the people greeted Anne Boleyn, the new favourite. 
She was nineteen, and comely before others, and hopes of a 
male heir to the throne again ran high. St. Anne, even, was 
pressed into service for the pageantry, sitting in Leadenhall, 
" with all her issue beneath her, and Mary Cleophas with her 
four children ; one of these made a goodly oration to the 
Queen of the fruitfulness of Saint Anne, and her generation, 
trusting that like fruit should come of her." x 

On the river, escorting the Queen from Greenwich to the 
Tower, had been the most splendid pageant seen to that day. 
The King had commanded. Fifty decorated barges of the 
City Companies alone were on the water, not taking count of 
innumerable barges of state owned by nobles and others. 
Leading was a strange craft, " a foist or wafter," full of 
ordnance, having in the midst " a great dragon continually 
moving and casting wild fire, and round about it terrible 
monsters and wild men casting fire and making hideous 
noises." The Bachelors' Barge went on the Queen's right 
hand, " which she took great pleasure to behold." With 
minstrelsy, and guns firing salutes, and from the Tower " as 
marvellous a peal as ever was heard," Anne Boleyn came to 
London. 

Pageant was piled upon pageant on the route of her progress 

1 Hall's Chronicle, 



168 FLEET STREET 

through the City this 1st of June, 1533. Onwards to West- 
minster "the streets were one display of rejoicing." Ludgate 
was newly garnished with gold and bise. On the leads of 
St. Martin's Church stood a goodly choir of singing men and 
children, who sang ballads newly made in praise of her 
Majesty. 

She passed through Ludgate, borne in an open litter of white 
cloth of gold. A pretty figure this young Queen made, full 
likely to arouse the enthusiasm of the citizens ; her hair 
hanging loose to her waist, and on the head a coif, with a 
circlet about it full of rich stones ; her surcoat of white cloth of 
tissue, and a mantle of the same furred with ermine. Two 
palfreys bore the poles of the litter, clad down to the ground, 
head and all, in white damask, and led by footmen. Over the 
Queen was a canopy of cloth of gold, upheld by four gilt 
staves, with silver bells which rang pleasantly as it moved. 
For bearers, sixteen Knights took turns by arrangement. 

The procession itself, flashing in velvets and silks of every 
hue, you may find set out in Hall's pages. The honours 
paid to the Tudor Kings were not more stately. It was the 
last Coronation procession in which rode the Abbots, who 
soon after came under the Royal ban, and the Mayor of London 
carried his mace as far as Westminster. 

Over the bridge crossing the little Fleet River they came 
to the conduit, newly painted for the occasion, and the arms 
and angels refreshed. This is the first time we hear of a 
pageant being set in Fleet Street. The Queen stopped. 
Chimes melodiously sounded. Over the conduit had been 
erected a tower with four turrets, in which stood the four 
Cardinal Virtues with their attributes. Each of them 
delivered a speech, promising the Queen never to leave her, but 
to be aiding and comforting her. In the midst of the tower 
was a concert of solemn instruments, making " a heavenly 
noise," which was much regarded and praised, and the pipes ran 
wine, claret and red, all the afternoon. 

Up the rise wound that brilliant cavalcade, amidst the 
crowded people, by St. Bride's Church, and past the great 
gate of the Carmelite Priory and the Temple. Temple Bar 
also had put on gay trappings in greeting of the young Queen. 
Sweet Anne Boleyn, vivacious and in high spirits, smiled at the 
white-robed children assembled there singing her praises, and 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 

smiling passed through, going to Westminster. No shadow 
of the headsman's sword had yet crossed her path. 

Behind she had left a scene unrivalled in splendour even 
by the wealthy city of London : Gracechurch Street all hung 
with tapestry and arras, and crimson, scarlet, and other 
grained cloths ; the Chepe, with the crafts and merchants 
and aldermen drawn up in line on one side, and opposite 
constables of the City, with great staves in their hands, causing 
the people to keep room and good order. Velvet, and cloth 
of tissue, and cloth of gold were there. The goldsmiths outvied 
one another in honour of so liberal a patron of their craft as 
was Henry the Eighth, and the ten fair dwelling-houses and 
fourteen shops near the Cross in Chepe, " commonly called 
Goldsmithes Rowe," which Stow declares to have been " the 
most beautiful frame of fayre houses and shoppes, that bee 
within the Walles of London, or else where in England," were 
decked with hangings of unimagined richness. Four stories 
high they stood, decorated towards the street with the gold- 
smiths' arms, with painted and gilt images of " woodmen " 
riding upon monstrous beasts. All this display makes it 
difficult to credit Froude's statement that though the streets 
were thronged with curious spectators there was no 
enthusiasm ; " the procession was like a funeral." 

Henry tired of the business after this. No one of his later 
Queens was crowned. 

Henry the Eighth went his way, and on the 19th February, 
1547, his successor passed from the Tower to his Coronation 
at the Abbey. The procession of King Edward the Sixth is 
unique among early pageants in this, that there is a picture of 
it — correctly, there was a picture. This ancient painting 
formerly hung in one of the apartments of the great Buck 
Hall at Cowdray House in Sussex, so called from the eleven 
bucks, carved life-size in oak, which stood raised on brackets 
above the wainscoting. Cowdray House had intimate 
associations with Edward the Sixth, for the sickly boy-King 
stayed there during his only " progress," and there he was 
" marvellously, yea, rather excessively banketted." Fire 
broke out in 1793, and the mansion, which was being restored 
for the young Lord Montagu, was totally destroyed. 

Luckily, engravings exist, and one of these, most to my 



170 FLEET STREET 

purpose, is here reproduced. It represents the procession 
passing Temple Bar. The painting was in three sections, the 
other stages of the progress chosen by the artist being at 
Cheapside and Charing Cross. Reliance must not be placed 
on the perspective, which brings the Palace at Westminster 
unnaturally near the City ; the Thames, too, shrinks to a 
stream one could leap over ; the Strand is almost obliterated ; 
but some chief features of the way may be made out, notably 
the enclosed ground of the Abbey's convent garden (now 
Covent Garden) and the stout gallows just outside the city 
in the shire. Temple Bar, of which this is the earliest 
representation, is by no means a light structure. 

The painting is attributed to Bernardi. 

Leland, Henry the Eighth's antiquary and librarian, who 
probably witnessed the Royal cavalcade, has preserved in the 
" Collectanea " a very elaborate account of it. I pass over 
many details, mentioning as of interest that the Scottish and 
Continental Ambassadors, and two others described as 
" Ambassadors of the Protestants," rode before the King, 
as did the Bishops, High Officers of State, and a goodly assem- 
blage of Barons, Earls, Marquises, Dukes, and their younger 
sons, while Duke Philip of Almaine graced the occasion with 
his presence. Two Gentlemen Ushers represented the two 
Estates of Normandy and Guienne. Sir Percival Hart, King's 
Harbinger, bore the sovereign's cloak and hat. The Mayor 
of London carried a mace. 

The Sword was borne by the Constable of England, the Lord 
Marquis of Dorset ; on his right hand the Earl of Warwick, 
Lord Great Chamberlain of England ; and on his left the Earl 
of Arundel, Lord Chamberlain, supplying the room as Earl 
Marshal, in lieu of the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset, 
who came himself immediately before the King. 

" A very great peal of ordnance shot at the Tower " sent the 
procession on its way, glittering with resplendent armour, and 
gold embroideries, and trappings of cloth of silver. Pageants 
were set at Fenchurch Street, by the conduit in Cornhill, and 
the great conduit and standard in Chepe, whereabouts, as 
was the custom, stood the aldermen and the crafts of London 
in their order. Valentine and wild Orsen, the one clothed 
with moss and ivy leaves, having in his hand a great club of 
yew, the other armed as a Knight, welcomed his Majesty. 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 171 

From springs at the conduit " came wine in plenty, red and 
claret, descending through pipes into the street among the 
people, who for the space of six hours with great diligence 
fetched it away." 

The Chepe was always the great place for display. " A 
dumb show," one of three pageants there, was typical of the 
thing. A double scaffold was hung with cloth of gold and silk, 
besides rich arras, and in the upper stage was devised an 
element or heaven, with the sun, stars and clouds very natur- 
ally. From this part there spread abroad another lesser cloud 
of white sarcenet, fringed with silk, powdered with stars and 
beams of gold. Out thereof descended a phoenix to the 
nether scaffold, where, as she settled herself upon a mount, 
there spread forth roses red and white, juli-flowers, and haw- 
thorn boughs. After the phcenix had been down a little while, 
there approached a lion of gold, crowned, making semblance 
of amity unto the bird, moving his head sundry times ; between 
the which familiarity, as it seemed, there came forth a young lion 
that had a crown imperial brought from heaven above, as by 
two angels, which they set upon his head. Then the old lion 
and phcenix vanished away, leaving alone the young lion 
crowned. 

It was told the King that this recondite device was "to 
signify, by the virtue of the lion, that you are descended 
lineally, through God's provision and His divine power, to 
succeed Henry the Eighth." 

Passing out of Chepe, a choir singing lustily " A Ballad of 
the King's Majesty," with rousing chorus — 

Sing up, heart ; sing up, heart ; sing no more down, 
But joy in King Edward that weareth the crown ! 

the procession reached St. Paul's. There a subtlety had been 
arranged which reminds one that tight-rope performances are 
of very old practice. From the battlements of the Cathedral 
steeple a rope as thick as a ship's cable stretched to near the 
gate of the Dean's house, where it was fastened to a great 
anchor. When the King approached, a man appeared, who 
was a foreigner, a native of Aragon, lying on the rope ; and, 
with his head foremost, throwing his arms and legs about, 
he slid down on his breast from the battlements to the ground, 
as if it had been an arrow from a bow. He came to the King 
and kissed his Majesty's foot ; and so, after a few words had 



172 FLEET STREET 

passed ran up the rope again until he came over the midst of 
the churchyard, where, having a rope about him, he " played 
certain mysteries on the said rope, as tumbling and casting 
one leg from another " — or, as Holinshed expressed it, " plaied 
manie pretie toies." Then he tied himself by the cable to the 
right leg, " a little beneath the wrist of the foot," and having 
so hung for a time, recovered himself and came down. All 
this greatly delighted the young Edward — he was but nine 
years of age — and detained him " for a good space of time." 

With Leland's aid, we may picture the gorgeous Coronation 
procession passing out of Ludgate, whose frowning front was 
lost in a blaze of banners and streamers, and up the long slope 
of Fleet Street. The great dignitaries rode at the head. 
Guarding them, on both sides of the narrow way, walked 
lines of Pensioners and Men-at-Arms with pole-axes. Six 
Knights, with attendant Squires, bore the Royal canopy, his 
Highness's footmen, in rich coats, going about his Grace on 
either side. Then came a pale, delicate lad — 

The King's Royal Majesty 

riding a little before his canopy, that the people might the 
better see his Grace ; his Highness being richly apparelled 
with a gown of cloth of silver, all over embroidered with 
damask gold ; with a girdle of white velvet wrought with 
Venice silver, garnished with true lovers' knots of pearls ; a 
doublet of white velvet according to the same, embroidered 
with Venice silver, and garnished with like precious stones and 
pearls ; a white velvet cap garnished with like stones and 
pearls ; and a pair of buskins with white velvet. On his 
horse was a caparison of crimson satin, embroidered with 
pearls and damask gold. Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the 
Horse, led a goodly courser of honour, very richly trapped. 

There followed in the train a long and vari-coloured cavalcade 
of horse and foot. 

Over streets laid with gravel they came, the buildings on 
either side throughout all the way being garnished with cloth 
of tapestry, arras, cloth of gold, and cloth of silver, and 
streamers and banners as richly as might be devised. In 
places stood priests and clerks, with their crosses and censors, 
and in their best ornaments, to cense the King. The Great 
Conduit in Fleet Street was hung with arras, and various 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 173 

streamers spread from it. There, too, was a pageant in 
which children acted Truth, Faith, and Justice, and so soon 
as the King was past were let run two hogsheads of wine to 
the people, " take who could." 

The last show was at Temple Bar, where the gate was painted, 
and fashioned with battlements and buttresses of various 
colours, richly hung with arras, and adorned with fourteen 
standards of flags. Eight French trumpeters blew their 
trumpets, " after the fashion of their country," and there were 
a pair of regals, with children singing to the same. 

Much poetry was recited that festal day ; many ballads 
were sung. One of these last I give here, for though upwards 
of three and a half centuries old it bears, as Mr. Nichols has 
pointed out, a curiously close analogy to our present National 
Anthem — a matter which should be worth investigating — 

King Edward, King Edward, 

God save King Edward, 

God save King Edward, 

King Edward the Sixth ! 

To have the sword, 

His subjects to defend, 

His enemies to put down, 
According to right, in every town ; 

And long to continue 

In grace and virtue. 

Unto God's pleasure 

His Commons to rejoice ! 
Whom we ought to honour, to love, and dread 

As our most noble King 

And Sovereign Lord, 
Next under God, of England and Ireland the Supreme Head ; 

Whom God hath chosen 

By His mercy so good. 
Good Lord ! in Heaven to Thee we sing 
Grant our noble King to reign and spring, 

From age to age 

Like Solomon the sage, 
Whom God preserve in peace and war, 
And safely help him from all danger. 

The City was not at less pains to welcome Queen Mary — 
not, perhaps, without misgiving. The display was magnificent, 
and is memorable for one departure from custom, for invariably 
the English Kings had ridden on horseback to Westminster, 
and the Queens been carried in a chair or litter. 



174 FLEET STREET 

Mary Tudor was the first Sovereign to go to her Coronation in 
a coach. No doubt it was a painful progress, the lumbering 
chariot jolting uneasily over the stony roads, and Mary's 
troubles were not softened by the extravagant dress of the 
period, which reached the height of absurdity in Elizabeth's 
reign ; for in Holinshed's pages one may read that on that day 
she wore on her head a cawl of cloth of tinsel, set with pearls 
and stones, and above it a round circlet of gold, also so richly 
set with precious stones that the value thereof was inestimable, 
and so ponderous were the cawl and circlet together that she 
was fain to bear up her head with her hand. 

John Hey wood, the merry mummer who had amused her 
when Princess Mary at her father's Court, sat in a pageant at 
St. Paul's school, under a vine, and made an oration in Latin 
and English. A novelty was the sight of a Dutchman, one 
Peter, who stood aloft on the weathercock of the cathedral 
steeple, holding in his hand a streamer five yards long, and 
waving ; he stood sometimes on one foot and shook the other, 
then kneeled on his knees, to the great marvel of the people. 
Above the cross was a scaffold, having torches and streamers 
set upon it, and another in like fashion over the ball of the 
cross, but the torches would not burn on account of the wind. 
In the next reign St. Paul's steeple was destroyed by fire. 

Philip of Spain, greeted somewhat churlishly by the Lon- 
doners, afterwards rode through the City with Queen Mary to 
Westminster, though denied his cherished ambition of an 
English Coronation. One of the pageants celebrated the 
glories of five Philips — Philip of Macedon, Philip the Emperor, 
Philip the Bold, Philip the Good, and Philip Prince of Spain 
and King of England. In another piece of poetic imagery, 
of curious taste, Philip was represented as Orpheus, with all the 
English people as brute and savage beasts following after his 
lute, and dancing to its strains. Foxe, the martyrologist, who 
is a prejudiced authority, could see nothing good in the shows, 
which he describes as " gauds " and a " vaine ostentation of 
flatter ie." 

The fifth of the day's pageants was by the Fleet Street 
conduit. At Temple Bar " they stayed a little in viewing a 
certain oration in Latin, which was in a long table, written 
with Roman letters above the port thereof, as they passed and 
departed forth of the city." 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 175 

A week later the report spread that the Queen was dead. 
Philip had determined to ride on horseback through London 
to show himself again to the people, and Mary accompanied 
him. By water they came from Greenwich, and entered the 
City at Temple Bar, where the Lord Mayor and Aldermen 
awaited the Royal couple ; passing thence to the Tower Wharf, 
with the Royal insignia and all the other solemnities customary 
when the Queen appeared in public. "It is not to be told 
what a vast crowd of people there was, nor yet the joy they 
demonstrated at seeing her Majesty, which was really great ; 
when they knew of her appearance they all ran from one place 
to another, as to an unexpected sight, and one which was well 
nigh new, as if they were crazy, to ascertain thoroughly if it 
was her, and recognising and seeing her in better plight than 
ever, they by shouts and salutations and other demonstrations 
then gave her greater signs of their joy " x This from the 
Venetian Ambassador in England to the Doge, between whom 
and Foxe the truth may somewhere lie. 

" The Passage of our most drad Soveraigne Ladye Queens 
Elyzabeth through the Citie of London to Westminster, the 
day before her Coronation, Anno 1558. 2 Imprinted at London 
in Flete Strete within Temple-Barre, at the Signe of the Hand 
and Starre, by Richard Tottill, the XXIII day of January. 
Cum privilegio." This sounds promising. 

The Guildhall Library possesses a copy of this rare pamphlet. 
I^nngered it reverently, for these curious pages, stained with 
age, came from the Fleet Street press in the great queen's 
Coronation year, and are a link back over the long interval 
which divides us from those spacious days. It is long and 
detailed, but enough is contained in an excerpt to convey its 
spirit of thankfulness to the Almighty that such a Queen had 
come to reign ; and I shrewdly suspect that the worthy 
printer, working " cum privilegio," kept one eye open to the 
opportunity of pleasing his Royal mistress. 



1 Venetian State Papers, vi, 173. 

2 Old style. Elizabeth was crowned on the 15th January, 1559. 
The pamphlet has been reprinted by Mr. Nichols (Royal Progresses) 
on whose collections I have largely drawn in this chapter, and by Mr. 
Pollard (Tudor Tracts). 



176 FLEET STREET 

I forbear to set out the procession, lest the appetite for 
splendour be satiated. A single phrase of the correspondent 
in London of the Prince of Mantua speaks for all : " The whole 
Court," says he, with Italian opulence, " so sparkled with 
jewels and gold collars that it cleared the air, though it snowed 
a little." Queen Elizabeth, five-and-twenty, and handsome 
in her stateliness, was gowned in a Royal robe of very rich 
cloth of gold, with a double raised stiff pile, and on her head, 
over a coif of cloth of gold, a plain gold crown without lace, 
as a princess, but covered with jewels. She carried nothing 
in her hands but gloves. A thousand horsemen attended the 
Queen's majesty. 

Let us take the procession as having passed through the 
City, and leave the old Elizabethan pamphlet to speak for 
itself— 

" Then Her Grace marched toward Ludgate : where she was 
received with a noise of instruments ; the forefront of the 
Gate being finely trimmed against Her Majesty's coming. 

" From thence, by the way as she went down toward 
Fletebridge, one about Her Grace noted the City's charge, 
that ' there was no cost spared.' 

" Her Grace answered, that ' She did well consider the same, 
and that it should be remembered ! ' An honourable answer, 
worthy a noble Prince : which may comfort all her subjects, 
considering there can be no point of gentleness or obedient 
love shewed towards Her Grace ; which she doth not most 
tenderly accept, and graciously weigh. 

" In this manner, the people on either side rejoicing, Her 
Grace went forward, toward the Conduit in Fleete-street, 
where was the fifth and last Pageant erected, in form following. 

" From the Conduit, which was beautified with painting, 
unto the north side of the street, was erected a Stage, em- 
battled with four towers, and in the same, a square plat rising 
with degrees, and upon the uppermost degree was placed a 
Chair or Seat royal, and behind the same Seat, in curious 
artificial manner, was erected a tree of reasonable height, 
and so far advanced above the seat as it did well and seemly 
shadow the same, without endamaging the sight of any part 
of the pageant. And the same tree was beautified with leaves 
as green as Art could devise, being of a convenient greatness 
and containing thereupon the fruit of the date tree, and on the 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 177 

top of the same tree, in a table, was set the name thereof, which 
was A Palm Tree. 

" And in the aforesaid Seat or Chair was placed a seemly 
and meet personage, richly apparelled in Parliament robes, 
with a sceptre in her hand, as a Queen ; crowned with an open 
crown : whose name and title were in a table fixed over her head 
in this sort : ' Debora, The Judge and Restorer of the House of 
Israel, Judic. IV.' 

" And the other degrees, on either side, were furnished with 
six personages ; two representing the Nobility, two the Clergy, 
and two the Commonalty. And before these personages, was 
written, in a table, 

" ' Debora, with her Estates, Consulting for the Good 
Government of Israel/ 

" At the feet of these, and the lowest part of the pageant, 
was ordained a convenient room for a child to open the meaning 
of the pageant. 

" When the Queen's Majesty drew near unto this pageant ; 
and perceived, as in the others, the child ready to speak : 
Her Grace required silence, and commanded her chariot to be 
moved nigher, that she might plainly hear the child speak ; 
which said, as hereafter followeth — 

" Jaben, of Canaan King, had long, by force of arms, 
Oppressed the Israelites ; which for God's People went ; 
But God minding, at last, for to redress their harms 
The worthy Debora, as Judge among them sent. . 

" In war She, through God's aid, did put her foes to flight, 
And with the dint of sword the band of bondage brast ; 
In peace She, through God's aid did always maintain right 
And judged Israel, till forty years were past. 

" O worthy precedent, O worthy Queen ! thou hast ! 
A worthy woman Judge ! a woman sent for Stay ! 
And that the like to us endure always thou may'st, 
Thy loving subjects will, with true hearts and tongues pray I 

These verses were written on the pageant in English and 
Latin ; the Latin text I omit. The description continues — 

;< The void places of the pageant were rilled with pretty 
Sentences concerning the same matter. 

"The ground of this last pageant was, that forsomuch as 
the next pageant before had set before Her Grace's eyes the 
Flourishing and Desolate States of a Common Weal ; she 

12 — (2246) 



178 . FLEET STREET 

might by this, be put in remembrance to consult for the worthy 
Government of her People ; considering God ofttimes, sent 
women nobly to rule among men, as Debora which governed 
Israel in peace the space of forty years ; and that it behoveth 
both men and women so ruling, to use advice of good counsel. 

" When the Queen's Majesty had passed this pageant ; she 
marched toward Templebarre. 

" But at St. Dunstan's Church, where the children of The 
Hospital * were appointed to stand with their Governors ; 
Her Grace, perceiving a child offered to make an oration unto 
her, stayed her chariot, and did cast up her eyes to heaven, as 
who should say, ' I here see this merciful work towards the 
poor ; whom I must, in the midst of my royalty, needs 
remember ! ' And so, turned her face towards the child, which, 
in Latin, pronounced an Oration to this effect — 

" That after the Queen's Highness had passed through the City ; 
and had seen so sumptuous, rich, and noble spectacles of the Citizens, 
which declared their most hearty receiving and joyous welcoming of 
Her Grace into the same ; this one Spectacle yet rested and remained, 
which was the everlasting Spectacle of Mercy unto the poor members 
of Almighty God, furthered by that famous and most noble Prince 
King Henry VIII, her Grace's Father ; erected by the City of London ; 
and advanced by the most godly, virtuous and gracious Prince, King 
Edward VI, Her Grace's dear loving Brother. Doubting nothing of 
the mercy of the Queen's most gracious clemency : by the which they 
may not only be relieved and helped, but also stayed and defended ; 
and therefore incessantly, they would pray and cry unto Almighty God 
for the long life and reign of Her Highness, with most prosperous 
victory against her enemies. 

" The child, after he had ended his Oration, kissed the paper 
wherein the same was written, and reached it to the Queen's 
Majesty ; who received it graciously both with words and 
countenance, declaring her gracious mind towards their relief. 

" From thence, Her Grace came to Temple Barre, which was 
dressed finely with the two images of Gotmagot the Albion, and 
Corineus the Briton ; two giants big in stature, furnished 
accordingly : which held in their hands, even above the gate, 
a table, wherein was written, in Latin verses, the effect of all 
the pageants which the City before had erected." 

The verse which Gotmagot and Corineus held so high above 
Temple Bar is given both in Latin and English. It is not in 

1 i.e., Christ's Hospital. These were the Blue-coat children, 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 179 

the strain of the great Elizabethan singers, but the sentiment 
is worthy — 

" Behold here, in one view, thou mayst see all that plain ; 
O Princess, to this thy people, the only stay ! 
Which eachwhere thou hast seen in this wide town again ; 
This one Arch, whatsoever the rest contained, doth say. 

" The First Arch, as true Heir unto thy Father dear, 
Did set thee in thy Throne, where thy Grandfather sat ! 
The Second, did confirm thy Seat as Princess here ; 
Virtues now bearing sway, and Vices beat down flat ! 

" The Third, if that thou wouldst go on as thou began, 
Declareth thee to be blessed on every side ! 
The Fourth did open Truth, and also taught thee when 
The Common weal stood well, and when it did thence slide ! 

" The Fifth, as Debora, declared thee to be sent 
From Heaven, a long comfort to us thy subjects all ! 
Therefore, go on, O Queen ! (on whom our hope is bent) 
And take with thee, this wish of thy Town as final ! 

" Live long ! and as long reign ! adorning thy country 
With Virtues ; and maintain thy people's hope of thee ! 
For thus, thus Heaven is won ! thus, must thou pierce the sky ! 
This is by Virtue wrought ! All others must needs die. 

" On the south side was appointed by the City, a noise of 
singing children ; and one child richly attired as a Poet, which 
gave the Queen's Majesty her farewell, in the name of the 
whole City, by these words — 

"As at thine Entrance first, O Prince of high renown ! 
Thou wast presented with Tongues and Hearts for thy fair ; 
So now, sith thou must needs depart out of this Town, 
This City sendeth thee firm Hope and earnest Prayer ! 

" For all men hope in thee, that all virtues shall reign ; 
For all men hope that thou, none error wilt support ; 
For all men hope that thou wilt Truth restore again, 
And mend that is amiss ; to all good men's comfort ! 

" And for this Hope, they pray thou mayst continue long, 
Our Queen amongst us here, all vice for to supplant ! 
And for this Hope they pray, that God may make thee strong, 
And by his Grace puissant, so in His truth constant. 

" Farewell ! O worthy Queen, and as our hope is sure, 
That into Error's place, thou wilt now Truth restore ! 
So trust we that thou wilt our Sovereign Queen endure, 
And loving Lady stand, from henceforth, evermore ! " 



180 FLEET STREET 

" While these words were in saying, and certain wishes 
therein repeated for maintenance of Truth, and rooting out 
of Error, she now and then held up her hands to heavenwards, 
and willed the people to say, ' Amen ! ' 

" When the child had ended, she said, ' Be ye well assured I 
will stand your good Queen ! ' 

" At which saying, Her Grace departed forth, through 
Temple Barre toward Westminster, with no less shouting and 
crying of the People, than, when she entered the City, with a 
great noise of ordnance which the Tower shot off at Her Grace's 
entrance into Towre-streete. 

" Thus the Queen's Highness passed through the City, 
which, without any foreign person, of itself, beautified itself ; 
and received Her Grace at all places, as hath been before 
mentioned, with most tender obedience and love, due to so 
gracious a Queen, and Sovereign Lady. And Her Grace 
likewise, on her side, in all Her Grace's passage, showed herself 
generally an image of a worthy Lady and Governor." 

Elizabeth's Coronation procession, as mirrored by her loyal 
subject, does not contain all that might be expected. All 
mention is lacking of that might of the sword of which much 
was made when Edward the Sixth passed to Westminster. Yet 
Elizabeth could wield the sword, and the axe, too, with despatch 
when need arose. True, the old writer does in one place speak 
of her " Prince like voice, which could not but have set the 
enemy on fire." But the dominant note is religion. The 
pageants were smothered with religion. The war of the creeds 
and the dread memory of Smithfield's fires were near in the 
people's recollection, the need for domestic peace uppermost 
in their minds. The Armada of Philip of Spain was yet to 
come. 

On the whole, Fleet Street rose to a great occasion, and its 
pageants did it credit. Elizabeth played the part desired by 
her people, clasping her hands, and turning her eyes heaven- 
wards at the proper moments. The populace were " wonder- 
fully ravished with the loving answers and greatness of the 
Princess." " Her Grace, by holding up her hands, and merry 
countenance to such as stood afar off, and most tender and 
gentle language to those that stood nigh to Her Grace, did 
declare herself no less thankfully to receive her People's good 
will, than they lovingly offered it to her. To all that ' wished 



A PAGEANT OF FLEET STREET 181 

her Grace well ! ' she gave ' Hearty thanks ! ' and to such as 
bade ' God save Her Grace ! ' she said again, ' God save them 
all ! ' and thanked with all her heart." 

One little touch must not be omitted — 

" What more famous thing," asks the recorder, " do we read 
in ancient Histories of old time, than that mighty Princes 
have gently received presents offered them by base and lowly 
personages. If that be to be wondered at (as it is passingly) 
let me see any writer that in one Prince's life is able to recount 
so many precedents of this virtue, as Her Grace showed in this 
one Passage through the City. How many nosegays did Her 
Grace receive at poor women's hands ? How ofttimes stayed 
she her chariot, when she saw any simple body offer to speak 
to Her Grace. A branch of rosemary given to Her Grace, 
with a supplication, by a poor woman about Flete Bridge, 
was seen in her chariot till Her Grace came to Westminster ; 
not without the marvellous wondering of such as knew the 
presenter, and noted the Queen's most gracious receiving and 
keeping the same." 

King James the First had to forego the procession at his 
Coronation on account of the plague then raging, of which 
837 persons died in London and the suburbs in one week alone, 
and it was also abandoned when Charles the First was crowned 
for the same reason. Charles the Second was the last English 
monarch to ride the historic route from the Tower through the 
City to Westminster. 

Fleet Street by Whitefriars then exhibited a triumphal arch, 
representing " the Garden of Plenty," and at Temple Bar the 
monarch was entertained with " the view of a delightful boscage 
full of several beasts, both tame and savage, as also several 
living figures, and music of eight waits." 

Along the street, too, passed the Mayors riding to West- 
minster, after King John, by charter to the citizens in 1215, 
had given them permission to elect their Mayor each year, 
and present him to the Sovereign for approval, or in his 
absence to his Justiciar. The cortege wound through the 
City, and traversing the Chepe, passed out by Newgate, then 
turned into Fleet Street, 1 doubtless by Shoe Lane (which, as 

1 Liber Albus. Riley, p. 22. 



182 FLEET STREET 

already said, is as old as Fleet Street itself) and so forward. 
Attending the Mayor were the Aldermen and chief citizens on 
horseback, with a company of minstrels leading the way. 

The early " ridings " were quite simple, and it was not 
until the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that advantage 
was taken of the unrivalled opportunity which this annual 
progress afforded for civic display. The Lord Mayor's pro- 
cession, as we know it, has been of slow growth. The first 
Mayoral pageant of any note recorded was that on the election 
in 1415 of John Wells, grocer. In punning commentary upon 
his name, three wells running with wine were exhibited at the 
conduit in Chepe, attended by three virgins to personate 
Mercy, Grace, and Pity, who gave the wine to all comers. 
About the wells were trees laden with oranges, almonds, lemons, 
and dates, in token of the Mayor's trade and company. 

A little while later there came a fateful change. In the 
year 1454 Sir John Norman was chosen by the citizens, and 
made his progress to Westminster by water. This startling 
innovation in the practice succeeded so well that it was con- 
tinued thereafter, much to the joy of the watermen, who 
swarmed on the river. They had their own song about it — 

Row the boat, Norman, row to thy leman. 

No doubt the pageant, the Mayor's state barge escorted by 
the craft of the City Companies, with music playing and banners 
flying, was seen a good deal more effectively on the wide river, 
but as one of the annual sights it was lost to Fleet Street for 
centuries. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE FIRST PRINTERS 

The printed part, though far too large, is less 
Than that which, yet unprinted, waits the press. 

From the Spanish of Yriarte. 

Two men of note came into Fleet Street in the opening years 
of the sixteenth century, both of whom were destined to divert 
into new channels the main currents of its life — a Sovereign 
and a subject. 

The Sovereign was none other than King Henry the Eighth, 
under whose dominating will the mediaeval and priestly 
character of the suburb was rooted out ; yet advisedly I place 
the subject first. For he it was who brought to Fleet Street 
that art and craft of printing which, after 400 years, remains 
to-day its staple industry. 

He was not even an Englishman. Like others of his time 
with whom a single Christian name sufficed, he bore the place- 
name of his native town as a distinguishing mark — Wynkyn 
de Worde, or Wynkyn of Worth, in Alsace, made memorable 
these later years as the scene of one of the bloodiest battles 
of the Franco-Prussian War. 

It is probable that he was brought to England by Caxton, 
when the father of English printing in the year 1476 set up 
his press within the Almonry at Westminster, under the 
heraldic sign of the Red Pale. We cannot tell exactly the 
ground whereon Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde worked 
together, but it is likely that some part of the new Wesleyan 
Methodist Hall covers this historic spot. De Worde was 
certainly settled in Westminster in 1480, and had then married 
a wife, Elizabeth. He continued as Caxton's assistant until 
the latter 's death in 1491, and thereafter still printed for nine 
years at the Red Pale. The founts he used were mostly 
Caxton's types, and he employed his old master's cypher, 
combining with it his own name. 

Late in the year 1500, or early in 1501, Wynkyn de Worde 
moved into Fleet Street : his reason, one may assume, partly 
because the Red Pale had become too small for a growing 
business, and partly to be near the centre of the book-selling 

183 



184 FLEET STREET 

trade, which at that time was settled about St. Paul's Church- 
yard. The site occupied by his press is known within a small 
compass. He rented two houses, one of which, no doubt, 
was his printing office, and the other a dwelling-house, paying 
the high rental of 66s. 8d. a year. Over the narrow street in 
front of his printing house swung the sign of the Sun. It was 
in St. Bride's parish, over against (or opposite) the conduit 
in Fleet Street. It was on the south side, and near the 
church. The conduit stood out in the street where Shoe Lane 
enters. 

With all these indicating arrows, if we fix upon the ground 
now occupied by the advertisement offices of the Daily 
Chronicle at the corner of Salisbury Court, we shall be upon or 
very near the site. 

When leaving Westminster, De Worde disposed of a quantity 
of types and woodcuts, for some of them were used in books 
afterwards printed by Julian Notary in London and by Hugo 
Goes at York. Some disappeared, having doubtless been 
destroyed. Others of Caxton's founts he brought into Fleet 
Street. The fact that only one book from De Worde's press 
in 1501 is known indicates that his time was then largely 
occupied in settling into the new premises. Ten books from 
his press can be placed in the following year, x and thereafter 
the output continued to be very large. In the years from his 
establishment in Fleet Street until his death in 1535, Wynkyn 
de Worde printed upwards of 500 books, known either by com- 
plete volumes or by fragments, and probably many others 
that are lost — a production that marks him as by far the 
busiest of the early English printers. 

The first noteworthy book printed in Fleet Street was The 
Ordinarye of crysten men, black letter, quarto, 1502. The 
colyphon states that it was " Emprynted in the Cyte of London 
in the Flete strete in the syne of the sonne by Wynken de 
Worde the yere of our lorde Mcccccij." This was a religious 
book translated from the French, of a kind then very popular. 
Its scope is sufficiently set out in the table of contents : — 
First, the sacrament of baptism and the twelve Articles of the 
Faith ; second, the Ten Commandments ; third, works of 

1 E. Gordon Duff, Hand Lists of English Printers. (Bibliographical 
Society,) 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 185 

mercy ; fourth, confession ; fifth, the pains of hell and the 
joys of paradise. The lesson of the blessings of a Christian 
life and the pains of damnation is simply enforced, by the text, 
and not less by the accompanying woodcuts. A hardened 
sinner must be touched in conscience by the rude picture of a 
skeleton, a cofhn, and two demons striving for a naked body, 
and another of three demons dragging the dead into hell, 
represented, as usual, by the gaping mouth of a huge monster ; 
or moved to better things by the engraver's vision of the joys 
of paradise, Christ in the clouds, with angels playing on flute 
and fiddle, and other angels bearing souls up to Him in a sheet. 

There is much to distinguish Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde, 
and not in De Worde's favour. Caxton was a scholar, who 
edited all the books which came from his press, and himself 
made the translations. De Worde was a simple craftsman. 
He edited none of his own books, and his translations from the 
French were made by his assistants, Robert Copland and 
Henry Watson. While Caxton printed magnificent folios 
for the rich, De Worde was shrewd to realise that there was 
a wider market for cheap productions, and his place in the 
history of book-selling is that of the first printer and publisher 
to popularise literature. In addition to his printing-house 
at the Sun, he had for a time a bookseller's shop in St. 
Paul's Churchyard, with the sign of Our Lady of Pity — a 
sign which afterwards served for John Byddell, his successor, 
at Fleet Bridge. It is probable, too, as was the custom of the 
time, that he kept a stall in front of his place in Fleet Street, at 
which the passer-by might scan his latest books, and make 
purchases if so disposed. 

Some important volumes, like the Morte d' 'Arthur of Caxton's 
— " on whose soul God have mercy," he piously prays in the 
colyphon — the Golden Legend, and Canterbury Tales, De Worde 
reprinted. But his press, with a few noteworthy exceptions, 
was devoted to popular books of devotion, short romances in 
prose and verse, grammars, riddles, books on carving, on 
manners at table, and the like. Nursery rhymes and puzzles 
are very old. None can tell what generations of children have 
been asked the riddle, " How many cows' tails would it take 
to reach the moon ? " with the answer, " One — if it were long 
enough ! " This and other riddles not less familiar (rhymes 
are largely Elizabethan) are to be found in the Demaundes 



186 FLEET STREET 

Joyous, a nursery book printed by Wynkyn de Worde in Fleet 
Street in the year 1510. 

The tradesman was uppermost. De Worde printed to sell, 
with no great concern for appearances. It must be confessed 
that many of his cheap books are badly set up and badly 
printed. An instance of slovenly methods is found in his 
reprint of The Horse the Shepe and the Ghoos. He had taken 
a copy of Caxton's book which happened to be wanting a leaf, 
and, not noticing the omission, printed straight ahead — making, 
of course, complete nonsense. * But De Worde earns our 
gratitude for having preserved in their later forms many early 
romances. His Christmas Carols contain those fine old verses, 
" Bringing in the Boar's Head," still sung each Yule-tide at 
Queen's College, Oxford — 

The bores heed in hande bring I, 
With garlans gay and rosemary 
I pray you all synge merely 
Qui estis in conuiuio. 

The bores head I understande 
Is the chefe seruyce in this lande, 
Loke where euer it be fande 
Seruite cum cantico. 

Be gladde lordes, bothe more and lasse, 
For this hath ordeyned our stewarde, 
To chere you all this christmasse, 
The bores heed with mustarde. 

In illustrations De Worde's books have little merit. He 
obtained series of woodcuts, and these were put into use 
indiscriminately wherever the subject suited. Thus the 
pictorial embellishments of The Ordinarye of crysten men, 
already alluded to, appear in various other books. A cut of 
a schoolmaster handling a large birch, with pupils around him, 
was considered appropriate to most of the educational works, 
and is constantly repeated. Mr. Gordon Duff, thanks to whose 
unwearied research we now possess a very full record of De 
Worde's books, says that he has found only one cut of this 
printer's specially made for a particular volume, and not 
belonging to a series. 2 

1 E. Gordon Duff, Westminster and London Printers. 
1 ibid., p. 33. 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 187 

There is no portrait of Wynkyn de Worde. Of the man 
himself little is known. Mr. Gordon Duff was amused to read 
in a copy of The Book of Kerving, once in the collection of 
Rawlinson, this rhyme written in an old hand — 

Wynken de Worde 

Sate at the borde 

Wyth his coseyn forde 

And kyld hym with a sworde. 

The learned Rawlinson thought this to be a " whymsy," 
as undoubtedly it is ; we cannot assume in all seriousness 
that the printer took the life of his cousin Ford with his sword 
at the hospitable board. What little is known of him is to his 
credit. Evidently he enjoyed the affections and esteem of his 
workmen. James Gaver, who continued to live with Byddell 
at the Sun after De Worde's death, in his will requested that he 
might be buried in St. Bride's Church, before the altar of St. 
Katherine, " nere unto Wynkyn de Worde sometyme my 
master." De Worde died in the first days of 1535. His will, 
proved by James Gaver and John Byddell, his executors, 
shows him to have been a pious man, bearing kindly remem- 
brance of all his servants. Commending his soul to God 
and the Blessed Mary, he made various bequests — 

Item, for tithes forgotten, 6s. 6d. Item to the Fraternity of Our 

Lady, of which I am a brother, 10s. to pray for my soul. Item, to 

my maid £3 in books. To Agnes Tidder, widow, 15s. in books. Item, 

to Robert Darby, £3 in printed books. To John Barbason 60s. in 

printed books and ten marks. To Hector, my servant, five marks 

sterling in books. And to Simon, my servant, 20s. in printed books. 

To Wislin 20s. in printed books. And to Nowell, the book-binder in 

Shoe Lane, 20s. in books. And to every of my apprentices, £3 in 

printed books. And to John Butler, late my servant, £6 in printed 

books. And to my servant, James Gaver, in books 20 marks. And 

forgive John Bedel, stationer, all money he owes me, etc., for executing 

this my will, with James Gaver, and that they, with the consent of 

the wardens of the parish of St. Bride's, purchase at lease 20s. in or 

near the city, for to pray for my soul, and to say mass. To Henry 

Pep well, stationer £4 in printed books. And to John Gouge forgive 

what he owes me. To Alard, book-binder, my servant, £6 13s. 8d. 

Humphry Towne, Curate. Lambeth, 19th Jan., 1534[-5] 

Wynken de Worde. Prob. by Jas Gaver and 

John Stud. John Bedel. 1 

John Turner. 

1 Herbert's Ames' Typographical Antiquities, i, 119-120. Plomer's 
Abstract of Wills, pp. 3-4. 



188 FLEET STREET 

It is learnt from the Survey of Chantries made in February, 
1547, that the sum paid for keeping an obit for the soul of the 
old printer was £36. 

There is no more persistent tradition of Fleet Street than 
that Wynkyn de Worde printed at the sign of the Falcon, and 
in Falcon Court. Stow says nothing about the printing houses 
— a curious omission for so ardent a bibliophile — nor, for that 
matter, of Shakespeare, or the theatres, save one casual 
mention of The Theater and The Curtain at Shoreditch, and that 
he took out in a second edition. But Strype, in his enlarge- 
ment of the Survey, asserts that Wynkyn de Worde held the 
tenure of an inn called " The Faulcon," in St. Bride's parish. 
Falcon Court by Temple Bar is in the parish of St. Dunstan ; 
there is another court of the same name in Shoe Lane. Later 
writers have stated as a fact that De Worde set up a press in 
Falcon Court, but the evidence wholly contradicts it. William 
Griffith printed Gorboduc, the earliest English tragedy, at the 
Falcon in Fleet Street, in 1565. Wynkyn de Worde was 
printing at the Sun, opposite Shoe Lane, as late as his books 
indicate his house sign ; that it was the same Sun appears 
from the words " in the parish of St. Bridget " in some of the 
colyphons. His successors carried on his business at the Sun, 
and his will, and his directions for burial, all indicate an 
unbroken connection with St. Bride's. 

Wynkyn de Worde is justly credited with having introduced 
the art of printing into Fleet Street, by reason of the importance 
of his press and its large output, as well as by date, but he 
was not, in fact, the first letter-press printer within the liberty. 
Earlier, William de Machlinia, a Belgian printer of law books 
and some others, had a press " in Holborn " and " By Flete- 
brigge." The site in each case is unknown. Machlinia died 
in 1492. Unfortunately none of his books are dated, and of the 
twenty-two books or editions that have been ascribed to him, 
only four contain his name. * 

A man of more note was Richard Pynson, King's printer 
to Henry the Eighth, from whom he received a salary. The 
sum was not large — 40s. per annum at first, afterwards £4. 
While Wynkyn de Worde was throwing off his printed sheets 
at Westminster, Pynson had already set up a press at St. 



1 H. P. Plomer, A Short History of English Printing, p. 27. 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 189 

Clement Danes, outside Temple Bar, and in 1503 he followed 
De Worde into Fleet Street. His sign was the George (St. 
George) next St. Dunstan's Churchyard, by the Chancery Lane 
corner. He, too, was a law printer, but something more — 
his books, by their unrivalled merit, proclaim him the 
foremost artist-craftsman that had been known in this country 
till his day. Indeed, the Continent had nothing to show in 
typographical art excelling his Boccacio of 1494, his Morton 
Missal of 1500 — a really splendid work — and the Intrationum 
excellentissimus liber of 1510. 

Pynson's output was scarcely one-half that of Wynkyn de 
Worde, but the quality is uniformly higher. From his press 
came editions of the works of Chaucer, Skelton, Lydgate, and 
Froisart, and ^Esop's Fables. The Princess Margaret, mother of 
King Henry the Seventh, was his early patron, and her support 
encouraged him in printing rich books. He was the first English 
printer to abandon the sole use of black letter, and introduce 
the Roman type now in universal use, which appeared in his 
edition of the Shyp of Folys of the Worlde and the Sermo Fratris 
Hieronymi de Ferraria, both published in the year 1509. 

As printer to the King, it fell to Pynson to print Henry 
the Eighth's fulminations against Martin Luther, before the 
monarch himself came over to the Reformation. The famous 
Letter in answer to Luther, first given in Latin, and afterwards in 
English, was " Imprinted at London in Fletestrete by Richarde 
Pynson printer to the Kynges most noble grace," as the colyphon 
sets out. Henry desired to emphasise to his loving subjects 
certain of his most vitriolic passages, but lacked the means of 
doing so now common. So his Grace gave them prominence in 
this way. Luther, lately an Augustinian friar, now apostate and 
wedded, had kindled anew the embers of old heresies, adding 
to them some points of his own, so poisoned, he declared — 

So wretched 

So vyle 

So detestable 
prouokynge man to myschefe 
encoragyng the world to syn 
preaching an unsaciat lyberte 

and finally 
so farre against all honesty 

virtue and reason 
that neuer was there erst any heretyke so farre voyde 
of all grace and wyt that durst for shame speke them. 



190 FLEET STREET 

A King can do no wrong ; but behind the King there is the 
man, and Henry the author of this thunder, amazed at his own 
learning, had nervous fears lest his subjects should fancy the 
inspiration came from some studious divine, and be not his 
own. So to his Letter he added this remarkable ascription : 
" And although ye fayne yourself to thynke my boke not myne 
owne, but to my rebuke (as it lyketh you to affyrme) put out 
by subtell sophisters : yet it is well knowen for myn and J 
for myne auowe it." 

Richard Pynson died in 1530, and was succeeded at the 
George in Fleet Street by Robert Redman, a printer who had 
been his somewhat unscrupulous rival outside Temple Bar. 
There he got into some trouble, and was bound over in 500 
marks not to sell the book called The division of the Spirituality 
and Temporality, nor any other book privileged by the King. 1 

Pynson's office as King's printer passed to Thomas Berthelet, 
Wynkyn de Worde's neighbour, at the sign of the Lucretia 
Romana in Fleet Street, " nere to ye cundite." Berthelet 
published in 1540 (but did not print) an edition of Cranmer's 
Bible. Of this excellent craftsman Mr. Plomer says : " Berthe- 
let was one of the few English printers of that period whose 
work is worth looking at. He had a varied assortment of 
types, all of them good, and his workmanship was as a rule 
excellent ; and as very few of his books are illustrated, we may 
infer that he was loth to spoil a good book with the rough and 
often unsightly woodcuts of that time. Berthelet was also 
a bookbinder and bookseller, and some of his fine bindings 
for Henry the Eighth and his successors are still to be seen. 
He was apparently the first English binder to use gold tooling." 

On the accession of Edward the Sixth Berthelet was deprived 
of his office as King's printer, but he ranked high in his craft, 
and the magnificence of his funeral in 1555 glows in the cold 
pages of Machyn's diary — 

The same day at afternoon was buried Master Berthelet Esquire 
and printer unto King Henry ; and was buried with pennon and cote- 
armour and four dozen of escutcheons and two white branches and four 
gilt candlesticks, and many priests and clerks and many mourners, 
and all the crafts of printers, booksellers, and all stationers. 2 



1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 4, 215. 

2 Machyn's Diary (Camden Society), p. 95. 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 191 

Other printers also gathered about the quarter : Julian 
Notary, at the Three Kings beyond Temple Bar ; John 
Wayland, at the Blue Garland, Fleet Street ; John Butler, 
at one time assistant to Wynkyn de Worde, at the [St.] 
John Evangelist ; and Robert Copland, another of De Worde 's 
old servants, who had set up for himself at the Rose Garland 
in Fleet Street in 1514, if not earlier. Not more than a dozen of 
Robert Copland's books are known (his son succeeded him), but 
he was a good craftsman, a scholarly man, and a prolific writer. 
It is curious to find that so early as 1518 the book trade was 
going to the dogs. In that year Copland participated in the 
production of a work called the Castell of Pleasure. The 
prologue is a dialogue in verse between printer and author. 
The latter asks — 

Emprynt this boke Copland at my request 
And put it forth to every maner state. 

Copland, the printer, is ready with the reply — 

At your instaunce I shall it gladly impresse 
But the utterance I thynke will be but small. 
Bokes be not set by ; there tymes is past I gesse ; 
The dyse and cardes, in drynkynge wyne and ale, 
Tables, cayles, and balles, they be now sette a sale 
Men lete theyr chyldren use all such harlotry 
That byenge of bokes they utterly deny. 

The fact that four centuries ago the book trade was 
already doomed may put some heart into our modern 
pessimists. 

The growth of the printing press was watched with a jealous 
eye by the Privy Council, and its arbitrary decrees fell at times 
with crushing severity upon these early pioneers. William 
Middleton, who had followed Redman at The George, by St. 
Dunstan's Church, was in April, 1543, with several other printers, 
brought before the Council, " for printing off suche bokes as 
wer thowght to be unlawfull, contrary to the proclamation." 
Middleton was committed to the Fleet. Liberated after a 
fortnight's imprisonment, he was compelled to pay a fine, and 
send in a list of all books and ballads that he had printed and 
sold within three years. William Copland, who worked 
under his father's sign at the Rose Garland in Fleet Street, 
was after Queen Mary's accession summoned to the Council, 
and ordered to deliver up all copies he had printed of Cranmer's 



192 FLEET STREET 

Recantation, to be burnt ; * and other like instances might be 
cited. 

I must look forward a space to include Richard Tottel, 
law printer and stationer under Edward the Sixth and succeed- 
ing monarchs. In 1553 he obtained a patent to print for seven 
years all " duly authorised books on common law," and that 
year came into Fleet Street to The Hand and Star, between 
the two gates of the Temple, and there he remained until his 
death forty-one years later. The site of his shop and house 
is covered by No. 7 Fleet Street, by Middle Temple Gate. 
His patent was granted anew for life. On the creation of the 
Stationers' Company in 1557, Tottel was nominated a member 
of the charter, and he filled in succession all the chief offices 
in the company ; Master in 1578 and 1584. In such esteem 
was he held that when ill-health and non-attendance compelled 
his retirement from the court of assistants, they resolved that 
having been always " a loving and orderly brother," he should 
be at liberty to attend their meetings whenever he was in 
London. 

Law books were Tottel's chief publications, but, like Caxton, 
he was both printer and man of letters. The value of the few 
other volumes that he gave to the public should win for him a 
niche in the great monument of English literature. Tottel's 
Miscellany , the first edition of which appeared in 1557, 
preserves all the original verse of the Earl of Surrey and of 
Sir Thomas Wyatt known to be extant. The enterprise, says 
the printer addressing the reader, was undertaken " to the 
honor of the Englishe tong and for profit of the studius of 
Englishe eloquence." It formed the model upon which all 
the long series of poetic anthologies that were so popular in 
England throughout Queen Elizabeth's reign were based. 
Tottel also printed in 1557 the Earl of Surrey's translation of 
the second and fourth books of Virgil's Mneid, the earliest 
known specimen of blank verse in English ; More's Dialogue 

1 E. Gordon Duff, A Century of the English Book Trade, 1457-1557 
(Bibliographical Society), pp. 104, 32. Other printers of the period 
whom Mr. Gordon Duff includes in his lists are : — Henry Wykes, at 
the Black Elephant, Fleet Street ; Lawrence Andrewe, at the Golden 
Cross, Fleet Street ; Thomas Marshe, at the King's Arms (afterwards 
the Prince's Arms), Fleet Street ; Antony Clarke, at the White Hart, 
Fleet Street ; and Richard Bankes, " next the White Hart." 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 193 

of Comfort (1553), Lydgate's Fall of Princes (1554), and 
Stephen Hawe's Pastime of Pleasure (1555). x 

A lesser book than these has a peculiar interest. At the 
Hand and Star in Fleet Street Tottel printed and issued 
in 1562 Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet, the main 
source upon which Shakespeare drew for his tragedy ; in plot, 
though not in diction, the play closely follows Brooke's tiresome 
poem. 

In that age of monopoly a patent was drawn in favour 
of Tottel, giving him the exclusive right of publishing 
for seven years all books on cosmography, geography, and 
topography, but doubt is entertained whether this grant was 
ratified. 

As Wynkyn de Worde lay on his death-bed in 1534 the golden 
age of English printing was already passing. They carried 
the body of the old printer into St. Bride's Church, and there, 
as directed by his will, laid him before the high altar of St. 
Katherine for his long rest. A bitter and protracted agitation 
against the foreigner had placed on the statutes the Acts which 
culminated in that of the 25th Henry the Eighth, annulling 
free trade in books. None but English-born apprentices were 
allowed in the printing shops. No master might employ more 
than two foreign workmen. 

The alien, clever and resourceful, was driven out, and under 
protection English printing fell away from the high promise of 
its birth into that degeneracy which, save for the work of a few 
artist-craftsmen, characterised it almost to our own day. 
Nothing could be worse than the productions which poured 
from the press under the Commonwealth. Development was 
surprisingly slow. De Worde 's simple type of wooden screw- 
press, with some unimportant modifications, survived in use 
until 1800, when the third Earl Stanhope invented the first 
iron-framed lever press, and the first printing machine was set 
up in Thomas Bensley's shop in Bolt Court, Fleet Street, in 
1812. 

With rare exceptions, the earliest printers in England were 
foreign. Richard Pynson was Norman, and though the 



1 Diet. National Biography, Richard Tottel. 

13— (8246) 



194 FLEET STREET 

foremost master of his craft, his origin was held sufficient 
incitement for the jealous Londoners to attempt to break up his 
business. The story, as told in the Star Chamber, is valuable 
as illustrating the times. Pynson made " lamentable com- 
pleynt " to Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury and 
Chancellor of England, of riotous assembly and assault com- 
mitted upon him and his servants on the 21st April, 1500 — 
it was before he had moved to the greater security of Fleet 
Street, within the Mayor's jurisdiction, probably in 
consequence of such attacks. 

He said that Harry Squier, cordwainer, John Walker, bailiff 
of the Savoy, John Vickers Bocher, accompanied by eleven 
other riotous and evilly disposed persons, at ten at night lay 
in wait for him and his servants about his house in St. Clement 
Danes, with intent to have murdered and slain them. They, 
being peaceable men, were assailed and beaten and driven into 
the house, divers of the servants being maimed and hurt. 
Not content with this, the rioters stole a bench and other 
appurtenances, and would have broken open the door in further 
pursuit of their murderous and cruel purpose had not certain 
gentlemen beaten them off. 

The assault was part of an organised plot. Those named, 
Pynson goes on to say, " have made great oaths and promises 
that there shall neither Frenchman nor Flemmyng dwell nor 
abide within the said parish of Seynt Clementes, and thus 
daily and continually the said Rioters menace your said Orators 
and their servants so that they neither their servants dare not 
go about their lawful business, to the utter undoing of your 
said Orators." He tells that on the following Wednesday 
his servant was waylaid in Fleet Street by fifteen or sixteen 
of this company and sore beaten and wounded, so as to be in 
great jeopardy of life, and that his assailants took from him a 
cloak and a short dagger. At divers other times they had so 
menaced and threatened his servants, and put them in such fear 
of their lives, that they dare not go to church to divine worship, 
or set out from their master's door. In consequence his ser- 
vants had left him, " and have left right great business the 
which he hath now in hand to be undone, to his great hurt 
and utter destruction." 

There was some hard swearing. Squier replied on oath. He 
was sitting in his house with a neighbour when a messenger 



THE FIRST PRINTERS 195 

came to tell him of the street affray. Being a parish constable, 
he went out and quelled the riot, and in the King's name charged 
all to keep the peace. His fellow accused professed equal 
peacefulness ; and that was the issue left to the Star Chamber 
to try. 1 



1 Select Cases in the Star Chamber (Selden Society). Ed. by I. S. 
Leadam, p. 114 et seq. 



CHAPTER IX 

CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 

London contains many houses on either side of the river, and in various 
parts of the city there are many palaces of divers citizens and mer- 
chants, but the larger ones, and the most superb, are on the river, 
the owners being the chief personages of the kingdom. The popula- 
tion of London is immense, and comprises many artificers. The 
houses are in very great number, but ugly, and one-half the materials 
of wood, nor are the streets wide. In short, I am of opinion, all 
things considered, that it is a very rich, populous, and mercantile 
city, but not beautiful. — Mario Savorgnano's Tour, a.d. 1531, 
Venetian State Papers. 

Now to bring King Henry the Eighth into the street. 

Accompanying the Sovereign, but first preceding him, came 
another masterful and sinister figure, Cardinal Wolsey. He, 
too, must be counted among the band of illustrious men who 
in days past have made Fleet Street a dwelling place ; Dean of 
Lincoln at the time, and young in favour of the new monarch, 
who had made him almoner : greater offices were to come. 
" He found means," says Cavendish, Wolsey 's biographer, 
"to be made one of the King's Council, and to grow in good 
estimation and favour with the King, to whom the King gave 
a house in Bridewell in Fleet Street, sometime Sir Richard 
Empson's, where he kept house for his family, and daily 
attended upon the King in the Court." 

It has been assumed that Wolsey was an early occupant of 
Bridewell Palace. There is a letter by him, the 5th June, 
1513, to the Lord High Admiral, dated from " my poor house 
at Bridewell," and others the same. The Prior of St. John of 
Jerusalem also had a house in Bridewell, and this the King 
wanted for Sir John Fyneux, his Chief Justice. The Prior held 
out against the Royal exaction, until there came a communi- 
cation from Wolsey closing all argument : "I advise you to 
comply without excuse or delay, according to the accompanying 
letters from the King." * In neither case, however, does this 
indicate use of the Palace buildings. Wolsey's lodging was not 
Royal, but was the parsonage house of St. Bride's, Fleet Street, 

» Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 3 (2), 3678. 

196 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 197 

which then, as it does to-day, stood by the Bridewell Precinct. 
Part of the ground is at present covered by the St. Bride 
Foundation Institute. 

Sir Richard Empson stayed not long. He had held a 
revenue office under King Henry the Seventh, and his extortions 
had earned for him popular hatred. The new King in the first 
year of the reign threw him to the wolves ; a charge of con- 
structive treason appeased the clamour, and his head fell on 
Tower Hill. The knight held a lease of St. Bride's parsonage 
from the Abbot and convent of Westminster, which lapsed 
to the Sovereign on his attainder, and Henry, on the 9th 
October, 1509, granted the house to Wolsey. 1 

Ever since King John's reign Bridewell Palace has been 
represented as surviving in a ruinous condition. There is a 
well-known passage by Stow, that Henry the Eighth built 
there a stately and beautiful house anew to accommodate 
his illustrious guest, the Emperor Charles V, on his second visit 
to this country in 1523. Then Hentzner has stated that the 
Royal Palace was restored for that purpose in the short space 
of six weeks. Every book upon London or upon Bridewell has 
included these two passages. How much they misrepresent 
the actual facts may be seen from an examination of the State 
Papers of the reign stored in the Public Record Office, which 
Dr. Gairdner has exhaustively calendared. 

A correct appreciation of Bridewell Palace is of some im- 
portance, as it played a large part in one of the most dramatic 
episodes of English history, and the whole of the third act of 
King Henry VIII is placed there. 

King Henry began building on an extensive scale at Bridewell 
within seven years of his accession to the throne. When he 
took the old Palace in hand, it had no chamber so large as 
80 feet in length, by 34 feet in width, and 27 feet in height. 2 
He actually enlarged Bridewell precinct as it had descended 
through the British Sovereigns since King John, incorporating 
ground in Bride Lane belonging to the Abbot of Feversham, 
to whom he paid £100, with licence to acquire in mortmain 
land elsewhere. 3 This was in 1521, as building was going on. 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 1, 555. 

* ibid., vol. 3 (1), No. 710. 

3 ibid., vol. 3 (pt. 2), p. 1544 ; (pt. 1), No. 1177. 



198 FLEET STREET 

Ten years later there was a larger extension from the property 
of St. John of Jerusalem, comprising certain houses and fifteen 
gardens adjoining Bridewell, which were thrown down and 
enclosed in the King's manor. * 

The King's books of payments are preserved. There is in 
1519 this " Memorandum concerning the King's affairs : £6,000 
a year for his buildings at Bridewell, Newhall, etc.," 2 but the 
accounts go back four years. They begin with " Aug. 19-26, 
1515. Mr. Larke, new buildings at Bridewell, £1,000," and 
there is another £1,000 in December. In 1516 Larke, the 
Royal builder, received payments of £3,000, having at that time 
spent £5,180; in 1517 he had £2,000; in 1518, £3,000, all 
" for Bridewell," and the payments go on. As late as 1523 
there is entered, " To Henry Smith, clerk of works, for buildings 
at Bridewell, £1,000." 

We may almost see the Royal Palace rising by the Fleet bank 
by aid of these curious accounts. I take some items from a 
comprehensive bill of 1519, headed thus — 

Bridewell 

The esteemed charges of the building of the plat of Bridewell, 
that is signed by the King's grace. 

Item. For digging foundations and piling, £2,033 6s. 8d. Timber 
6s. a load ; sawing it 2s. a load average. 

Payments for freestone, 4,000 tons et di, at 5s. the ton, £1,050. 

Steps "with nowelles " of hard Kent stone, " with six vyces to be 
ready wrought." 

Carpenters' work : planche board ; timber for the long gallery ; 
sum total, £2,130. 

12,000 wainscot, £1,200. 

Glazing, £686 13s. 4d. 

Making chimneys and hewing for shafts, £40. 

The kitchen, with other houses of office, and lodging for officers, 
£4,000. 

For the " Corbell tabull," and so upwards, and for performing of 
battlements. 

For the part not yet built on, every wall to be in height 2 perches 
of 18 ft. each ; bricks, 500,000 at 4s. 4d. the hundred ; lime, £370 ; 
sand, £75 ; wages for bricklayers, £500. 

Grand total £19,424 10s. 8d. over and above £2,500 spent already. 

Item. The digging, walling, and flooring of cellars. 

Item. The glazing is esteemed too little after the Richmond view. 



1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 5, 627 (18) 
1 ibid., vol. 3 (1), 576. 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 199 

The last " item " is puzzling. There is no actual standard of 
comparison, but converting the money into modern values at 
a conservative estimate, the accounts show that Henry was 
spending over a period of eight years wellnigh £200,000 in 
building Bridewell, to take no account of furnishing. And 
this was the Royal Palace that was " built anew " for a foreign 
guest, as some will have it, in the space of six weeks ! 

The accounts set up Bridewell Palace before us as it really 
was : an imposing building with walls 36 feet in height and 
battlements, with its long gallery and great chamber of audience 
and all necessary offices, well fitted for lodging the King and 
his Consort, and for Councils of State. In the earliest maps 
and drawings of London it is shown constructed around two 
courtyards, with frontage on the Thames and the Fleet. The 
Emperor Charles the Fifth, who was magnificently entertained, 
did not himself lodge at Bridewell Palace, but in the Black 
Friars, whence he was brought by his Royal host in a glittering 
procession of nobles and knights. His suite were housed in 
Bridewell, a bridge and gallery of communication being thrown 
across the Fleet River, and a passage cut through the City 
wall into the Emperor's apartments. Charles the Fifth stayed 
there but three days before going on to Greenwich. * The bridge 
itself long afterwards remained as Bridewell Bridge. 

Three years later a Parliament was held at Black Friars, 
and in his Palace of Bridewell the King conferred various 
patents of nobility. These include some famous names — 

Henry FitzRoy, the King's natural child by Elizabeth Blunt, to 
be Earl of Nottingham, Duke of Richmond and of Somerset, Warden 
of the East, Middle, and West Marches against Scotland. 

Henry Courtney, Earl of Devonshire, cousin german to the King, 
to be Marquis of Exeter. 

Henry Brandon, a child two years old, son of the Earl of Suffolk, 
to be Earl of Lincoln. 

Sir Thomas Manners, Lord Rosse, to be Earl of Rutland. 

Sir Henry Clifford, to be Earl of Cumberland. 

Sir Thomas Boleyn (Queen Anne Boleyn's father), Treasurer of the 
King's Household, to be Viscount Rochford. 

The greatest, and most pitiful, associations of Bridewell are 
those of the divorce of Catherine of Aragon — memories which 
cling to the place after all the change it has undergone. King 

* Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Society), i, 13, 



200 FLEET STREET 

Henry was not in London when Cardinal Campeggio, having 
purposely delayed his journey, arrived on the 9th October, 
1528, to try the Royal cause with Wolsey. The Italian 
Legate was racked with gout ; he could not stand ; and at his 
urgent request the ceremonial reception which the Londoners 
had intended for him was abandoned. His house beyond 
Temple Bar (he was Bishop of Bath) had been prepared for use, 
and in a State barge he was carried privately up the Thames. 

Two days later Henry came with Catherine to Bridewell 
Palace, and there Campeggio had his first audience of the 
monarch, accompanied by Wolsey. 

The Cardinals passed together down Fleet Street, not alto- 
gether the dignified procession that would be expected ; Cam- 
peggio borne in a chair of crimson velvet, the poles supported 
by four attendants. The weather was dreadful. " I wish," 
wrote Gerado Molza to the Marchioness of Mantua, " that you 
could have seen the two Cardinals abreast, one on his mule, 
the other in his chair, the rain falling fast so that we were all 
drenched." 

The hall of audience in Bridewell Palace was densely packed. 
On raised chairs the Cardinals sat at the right hand of the 
King's throne. Floriano, a member of the Italian suite, 
opened the proceedings with a long oration in Latin, describing 
the perils of the Church and the miseries of Rome, then recently 
sacked by the Duke of Bourbon's troops — Cardinals dragged 
through the street, convents of nuns broken open by a brutal 
soldiery, wives and daughters violated, the city given over to 
pillage, and Pope Clement, a shuddering prisoner in the Castle 
of St. Angelo, looking down upon these horrors perpetrated 
at his feet. The oration was set forth with such lamentations, 
such abominable acts and tyrannies, says the chronicler 
Hall, that the most part of the hearers thought it more eloquent 
than true. Thereafter the Legates conversed secretly with the 
King for a long space, and the audience came to an end. So 
close had been the press that some of the Italians lost their 
shoes, and had to step back barefoot to their lodgings through 
the wet streets. 

Campeggio's feeble strength was exhausted, but he had yet 
to see the unhappy Queen. He accompanied Wolsey to her 
apartment, where Catherine received them sitting at needle- 
work among her maidens, a skein of red silk being about her 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 201 

neck. Her pride equalled that of Henry ; her obstinacy was 
as great. She refused to take the vows of religion, to be party 
to any arrangement that should dispossess her of her title to be 
Queen. Hall has left an account of one of these interviews 
of the Legates with the Queen at Bridewell Palace, which he 
professes to have received from Campeggio's secretary, who 
was present, and wrote down the conversation ; it was in 
French. Catherine turned upon Wolsey as the author of all 
her misfortunes — 

Alas ! my lords, is it now (she said) a question whether I be the King's 
lawful wife or no ? When I have been married to him almost twenty 
years, and in the mean season never question was made before ? Divers 
prelates yet being alive, and lords also and privy councillors with the 
King at that time then adjudged our marriage lawful and honest, and 
now to say it is detestable and abominable I think it great marvel : 
and in especial when I consider what a wise prince the King's father 
was, and also the love and natural affection that King Fernando my 
father bore unto me. I think in myself that neither of our fathers were 
so uncircumspect, so unwise, and of so small imagination, but they 
foresaw what might follow of our marriage, and in especial the King 
my father sent to the Court of Rome, and there after long suit, with 
great cost and charge, obtained a licence and dispensation, that I being 
the one brother's wife, might without scruple of conscience marry 
with the other brother lawfully, which licence under lead I have yet to 
show, which things make me to say and surely believe, that our marriage 
was both lawful, good, and Godly. 

But of this trouble I only may thank you, my lord Cardinal of York, 
for because I have wondered at your high pride and vainglory, and 
abhor your voluptuous life and abominable Lechery, and little regard 
your presumptuous power and tyranny, therefore of malice you have 
kindled this fire, and set this matter abroach, and in especial for the 
great malice that you bear to my nephew the Emperor, whom I perfectly 
know you hate worse than a Scorpion, because he would not satisfy 
your ambition, and make you Pope by force, and therefore you have 
said more than once, that you would trouble him and his friends, and 
you have kept him true promise, for of all his wars and vexations he 
only may thank you, and as for me, his poor aunt and kinswoman, 
what trouble you put me to by this new found doubt God knoweth, 
to whom I commit my cause according to the truth. 

The London citizens favoured the Queen's cause. They 
chanced to catch a glimpse of Catherine in a gallery at the 
Palace, and she was enthusiastically cheered. Discontent 
with the action of the Pope and King steadily grew. Henry, 
always keenly sensitive to the eddies of public opinion, found 
it advisable to explain himself. On Sunday, the 8th Novem- 
ber, 1528, after noon, he summoned to Bridewell Palace 



202 FLEET STREET 

the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, the Privy Council, a body of 
Peers, and representatives of the commonalty, and to all this 
assembly then addressed himself — " both you of the nobility 
and you of the meaner sort." The skill of the speech will pass. 
Its honesty in the mouth of the man who had already raised 
Anne Boleyn to the Queen's place is more questionable. 

He claimed that under his reign his subjects had enjoyed 
more quiet, more wealth, were held in more estimation, than 
under any of his noble predecessors. But Kings must die, 
and he had no male heir. They knew what mischief and 
manslaughter had befallen the realm in the struggle for suc- 
cession between the houses of York and Lancaster. A fair 
daughter had blessed his union with Catherine ; but he was 
told by learned clerks that the Princess Mary was not his 
lawful daughter, nor the Queen his lawful wife, but that they 
lived in open adultery. When he had proposed the marriage 
of the Princess Mary with the Duke of Orleans, the councillors 
of the French King had questioned her legitimacy. 

His conscience was touched. That this was his only cause 
Henry protested before God and on the word of a Prince — 

And as touching the Queen, if it be adjudged by the law of God that 
she is my lawful wife, there was never anything more pleasant nor more 
acceptable to me in my life, both for the discharge and clearing of my 
conscience, and also for the good qualities and conditions the which 
I know to be in her. For I assure you all that besides her noble parent- 
age of which she is descended (as you all know) she is a woman of most 
gentleness, of most humility and buxomness, yea, and of all good 
qualities appertaining to nobility she is without comparison, as I this 
twenty years almost have had the true experiment, so that if I were 
to marry again, if the marriage might be good I would surely choose 
her above all women. But if it be determined by judgment that our 
marriage was against God's law and clearly void, then I shall not only 
sorrow the departing from so good a lady and loving companion, but 
much more lament and bewail my unfortunate chance that I have so 
long lived in adultery to God's great displeasure, and have no true 
heir of my body to inherit this realm. 

The speech was well designed to serve its purpose, if hollow 
sounding ; but the Tudor ring came back when, dismissing 
the assembly, Henry warned them to be careful of forming 
hasty judgments of their Prince's actions, lest their heads should 
answer for the presumption of their tongues. The proudest 
among them should learn that he was their Sovereign. 

The dramatic scene of the trial in the following year was 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 203 

in the great hall of the Black Friars across the Fleet, where 
Catherine threw herself at the King's feet, and in the sight of 
all the people took God to judge that she had been a true and 
humble wife, ever conformable to her lord's will and pleasure, 
denied the competency of the tribunal, and, appealing to Rome, 
swept out of the Court, never again to appear before the 
Legates. The place of the trial can be very closely identified 
with the site of Apothecaries' Hall. 

Henry, after the postponement of the divorce, never resided 
in Bridewell, though twice during progresses in 1531 he made 
a temporary stay there when returning or setting out. The 
Palace again fell into such neglect that Bishop Ridley in 1552, 
in his letter to Sir William Cecil which resulted in the foundation 
by King Edward the Sixth of the Royal Hospital, could refer to 
it as "a large wide empty house of the King's Majesty called 
Bridewell." The fall of Wolsey had thrown into the King's 
hands both York Place (Whitehall) and Hampton Court ; a 
mansion in Chancery Lane, also among the Cardinal's posses- 
sions, Henry valued but little, and this he granted to one John 
Pope. * But there is another reason, more substantial than the 
sentiment of unhappy association, to account for the fact 
that no British monarch ever after made use of this Royal 
Palace of Bridewell. 

The Palace was within the City of London, and the Kings of 
England have never made their capital a permanent residence ; 
the Royal Palace in the Tower was rather a place of refuge in 
times of national broils. But there is more. 

London was frequently ravaged by plague, and Bridewell, 
built upon the fetid Fleet River, stood where the infection was 
ever of the most virulent type. The banks and water were 
no more pure than when, two and a half centuries before, the 
friars were dying from the poisonous exhalations. Edward 
Knyghtley, a King's prisoner in the Fleet Gaol in the plague 
year of 1532, wrote to Cromwell, begging consideration for his 
sufferings, " and the plague with which Fleet Street is sore 
infected, to my no little danger. Move the King to have pity 
on me." The Inns of Court that year broke commons, and 
the serjeants-at-law and barristers, in great fear, went into the 
country. " Universally death is in London, and most about 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 20 (pt. 1), 282 (9). 



204 FLEET STREET 

the Temple and Fleet Street," wrote one Hales on the 17th 
October ; and Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Keeper, ten days later, 
" The plague increases in London, especially about Fleet 
Street." 1 

It was the neighbourhood about Fleet Ditch that was first 
beyond the wall to be thickly peopled, and in the terribly 
insanitary conditions that were allowed gave the heaviest toll 
in human life in successive plague visitations. 

A joyous occasion may fitly follow, for there are few such 
to recall : the year 1536, the 22nd December : London in the 
grip of a hard frost. You are to picture the Thames packed 
with ice, so that no boats, not even the Royal barge, could 
pass, snow covering up the red-tiled roofs of the Fleet Street 
houses, and a surging crowd of onlookers lining the narrow 
way. King Henry had determined to visit his Palace of 
Nonsuch at Greenwich, accompanied by his Queen, Jane 
Seymour, and the Princess Mary, and the Royal river being 
denied to him by a yet more absolute monarch, King Frost, 
he must needs go by road. 

That morning Ralph Warren, Mayor of London, had 
presented himself to the Sovereign at Westminster for con- 
firmation of his election, and King Henry, in high spirits, had 
been pleased to make him knight. 

After the accolade the King and Queen and the Princess 
took horse at the Palace gate, attended by a goodly train of 
lords, ladies, and gentlemen, and set forth. Sir Ralph, who had 
gone before, met them at Temple Bar, and bore his mace in 
front of the King as the procession wound through the City, 
with all the aldermen in their order. The streets had been laid 
with gravel from Temple Bar to the Southwark exit of London 
Bridge, and richly hung with gold and arras. The four Orders of 
friars stood in Fleet Street in copes of gold embroidery, with 
crosses and candlesticks and censors, and they censed the King 
and Queen as their Majesties rode through the throng of cheering 
foot people. 2 

This was one of the last appearances of the friars in a welcome 
to the monarch who used them so harshly. But in passing to 
that great religious upheaval which is the chief event of the 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 5, Nos. 1368, 1444, 1450, 1476. 

8 Wriothesloy's Chronicle (Camden Society), i, 59. 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 205 

reign, there is one strong figure to recall. William Tyndale, the 
translator of the New Testament, was preacher at St. Dunstan's 
Church. His mind aflame with zeal, and rilled with indignation 
at the ignorance and corruption of the priesthood, he came 
to London from Gloucestershire about July or August, 1523. 
Disappointed in his hopes of a bishop's chaplaincy, he was glad 
to take this employment — the last, as events proved, he was 
to hold in his native land. In London he first came under the 
influence of Luther's views. His ardent preaching attracted 
the attention of Humphrey Monmouth, a wealthy alderman 
and cloth merchant, who took him into his own house for half 
a year, and there " he studied most part of the day and of the 
night, ate only sodden meat, drank small single beer, and never 
wore linen." Monmouth was afterwards sent to the Tower for 
giving exhibition to Tyndale, and for administering privy 
help to translate the Testament. 

Tyndale's stay at St. Dunstan's was short. Finding the 
accomplishment of his translation impossible in England, he 
sailed for Hamburg in May, 1524, and thereafter lived an 
exile, perishing at the stake at Vilvorde in 1536. Froude 
has said of him, " his epitaph is the Reformation." On his 
departure Tyndale received £10 from Monmouth to pray for 
the souls of the donor's father and mother and for all Christian 
souls, and a further £10 from others. The piety of London 
citizens thus helped to forward the preparation and printing 
of the new English version of the Bible. When St. Dunstan's 
Church was rebuilt last century, occasion was taken to com- 
memorate its association with Tyndale by placing a portrait 
in stone of the Reformer over the entrance porch. 

Amid the thundering of religious controversy an occasional 
voice is to be heard. Robert Austin, a Carmelite friar, preached 
at St. Bride's Church on the 10th June, 1537, and it was reported 
against him to the Council on many heads : (1) That he did 
not pray for grace ; (2) That he omitted the reverence due 
to his Prince and Supreme Head under God ; (3) That he did 
not preach against the usurped power of the Bishop of Rome ; 
(4) That he abused a preacher who had preached at St. Bride's 
on the gospel of the rich man and Lazarus for applying it to 
women ; and (5) he had denounced the same preacher for 
having called Our Lady " a maintainer of bawdry." When he 
left the pulpit, he was challenged by the informer upon what 



206 FLEET STREET 

authority he preached, and replied by the Bishop of London's 
authority. 1 

What measure of discipline overtook the revolting friar 
is not told. In 1543 an example was made of a hosier named 
Eton, an over-zealous Reformer, who had attired himself 
" in fonde fassyon " and strutted up and down St. Bride's 
Church while Mass was being celebrated, so creating a tumult. 
Clad just as he was, he was placed in the cage in Fleet Street, 
and there exhibited until nightfall, when he was removed to the 
compter, and detained until sureties were forthcoming to 
answer for his good behaviour. 2 Cages were first set up in 
1503 by order of Sir William Capell, Lord Mayor, in every 
ward for the punishment of rogues and vagabonds. 

The ecclesiastical policy of King Henry the Eighth brought 
to the ground the great establishment of the Dominican Order 
at Blackfriars and the smaller house of the Carmelites at 
Whitefriars. Its effects lie wholly outside my purpose except 
so far as the suppression of the religious houses altered the 
character, and, indeed, vastly altered the appearance, of the 
western suburb. Religious matters altogether apart, if anyone 
doubts the political necessity of the Reformation, let him glance 
at a map I have prepared, designed to show the extent of 
the property in Fleet Street owned by the religious Orders and 
the clergy at that time. It is no work of imagination. It 
is based mainly upon the confiscations of Henry the Eighth, 
and the subsequent grants by him to laymen of the lands 
which thus fell into the royal hands. All these grants are 
in the Public Record Office, and the references to them will 
mostly be found in subsequent pages up to the close building 
of the suburb under Elizabeth. I frankly confess that as the 
map became pieced together, I was not prepared for such a 
surprising result as is shown. The ecclesiastical holdings are 
coloured green. 

The map does not exaggerate them ; actually it understates 
them, because I have not been able to trace the extent of the 
St. Dunstan's glebe, which at the suppression belonged to the 
Prior and Convent of Alnwick in Northumberland ; 3 and in the 



1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 12 (2), No. 65. 
a W. W. Hutchings, London Town, i, 432. 
8 See Appendix. 



FLEET STREET AT THE 
REFORMATION, 1538-40 

Property belonging to the Religious 

Houses and the Clergy coloured green. 

BASED MAINLY UPON THE SEIZURES OF 

KING HENRY VIII AT THE SUPPRESSION 

OF THE RELIGIOUS HOUSES. 
Detail of the Carmelite Priory from Plan by Mr. A. W. Clapham 



Key to Smaller Properties indicated on 
Map by Numbers. 

Portion of Wolsey's forfeiture, granted to Knights 
Hospitallers in exchange for lands at Bridewell, 
and again seized. 

Ship Inn, Knights Hospitallers. 

St. Andrew's Cross and four houses adjoining, 
Knights Hospitallers. 

Messuage east of The Bell, Knights Hospitallers. 

St. Dunstan's parsonage. 

Knights Hospitallers; grant to Thomas Bochier 
in fee. 

Flower-de-Luce, Priory of St. Mary Overy. 

Abbey of Vale Royal, Cheshire. 

Priory of Ankerwyke. 

Abbey of Garroden. 

Two tenements next Middle Temple Gate on the 
east ; two tenements ; one tenement ; two 
tenements, all property of Knights Hospitallers. 

Queen's Head Tavern, and two tenements ad- 
joining, Knights Hospitallers. 

The Hande, at Inner Temple Gate, Knights 
Hospitallers. 

A tenement east of the way to Inner Temple, 

Knights Hospitallers. 
House adjoining the Falcon, Knights Hospitallers. 

The Bolt-in-Tun, Carmelite Friars. 

The Boar's Head, and two tenements adjoining, 
Carmelite Friars. 

Cock and Key Tavern, Royston Priory, Herts. 

The Crown. 

Two tenements by gate of Salisbury Place, pos- 
sessions of Godstone Abbey. Granted with two 
others in St. Bride's to Thomas Berthelet, the 
King's printer, in fee. 

The Tabard. John Ulstrop's chantry (1432) in 
St. Bride's Church. 

Rose Tavern. 



Other properties within the area of the map be- 
longed to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John 
of Jerusalem ; Priory of Alnwick, Northumber- 
land ; Priory of St. Mary Overy, Southwark ; 
Rochester Priory ; College of Aeon ; St. Mary 
Grace Monastery near the Tower ; and the Abbey 
of Godstone. The sites of these cannot be 
identified, and they are not included. 




DOMINICAN 
PRIORY 

(BLatk Frictrs) 



RIVER THAMES 



y 6 tairt 



W. C. B<l 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 207 

thin line of houses left to lay ownership there were in addition 
to many unmarked, others from which the rents had been 
charged in part by pious citizens for the endowment of chant- 
reys, church repairs, and like uses, and these profits are not 
indicated. There are great difficulties in reconstructing in 
detail the topography of the suburb so early as Henry the 
Eighth. Few cases are so simple as, for example, the Star and 
the Ram (where afterwards Ram Alley ran). The boundaries 
given in Henry's grant of this property to Robert Harrys, 
are the highway on the north, the garden of the New Temple 
on the south, the inn called " Le Sergeantes Inne " on the east, 
and the messuage of Henry Dakers on the west. 

Three sides are here definitely indicated ; but it is different 
where a property is bounded on three sides by the tenements 
of A B and C, with no guidance save " the highway " north or 
south. A B and C having gone to dust, and the exact situation 
of their dwellings being long since forgotten, I have been 
compelled to leave houses so designated out of the map, not 
for want of proof of ecclesiastical ownership, but from ignorance 
of the sites. 

I have striven in an earlier chapter to show how largely 
the land was monopolised by the religious. In Edward the 
Second's reign complaint was made that they held land one- 
third of the rental of the City. At the Reformation their 
holding in the particular area of the suburb mapped, extending 
from Fleet Street to the Thames and fifty yards north of the 
street, amounted to almost four-fifths of the whole. The 
development of London's western suburb into a closely built 
town area after the religious had been driven out is traced 
in detail in a subsequent chapter. At this halting stage the 
point to be made is that with Henry the Eighth came the first 
great cleavage with the past — its mediaeval and ecclesiastical 
tradition. The second was the Great Fire. 

In 1538-40 fell the violent dissolution of the larger religious 
houses, and in the next succeeding years London was so changed 
in appearance as to excite the astonishment of all visitors. 
" The city is much disfigured by the multitude of churches 
and monasteries belonging hitherto to friars and nuns," 
wrote Soranzo in 1554 to the Venetian Senate. Ruins of 
magnificent churches, dismantled piecemeal and carted away 



208 FLEET STREET 

for the stone, walls standing tottering and roofless, and 
piles of debris raised high where had been structures rightly 
appreciated as among the architectural glories of their time — 
these were the mute memorials of a state of things that had been 
and was never to return. Happily Henry's destroying hand 
spared one of the most distinguished of London's historical 
monuments. The church built by the Knights Templars 
in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries stands to-day unharmed. 

The Temple belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of St. 
John of Jerusalem, who maintained the priests and conducted 
the services in the church, leasing the lay buildings to the 
Inns of the Inner and Middle Temple. In the general upheaval 
the legal Inns were accepted as Crown lessees, paying their 
rent thenceforth into the Royal Treasury, and they jointly 
took over the charge of the church. Although their possessions 
were confiscated, there are various indications that the Knights 
Hospitallers had more generous treatment than others of the 
suppressed religious Orders. The Master of the Temple, four 
chaplains, and a clerk, were allowed to hold their houses for 
life, and were receiving their salaries from the Augmentation 
funds, £18 13s. 4d. for the half-year, when Henry died. l 

Queen Mary restored the Knights Hospitallers for a few 
brief years, but apart from these, the lawyers were confirmed 
in quiet occupation. They ascertained in time that King 
James the First was negotiating a sale, and by a gift to that 
impecunious monarch of " a stately cup of pure gold, weighing 
200 ounces," filled with gold coins, obtained from him a grant 
of the Temple, together with the church, in fee farm for ever 
at the old rental (£10 for each Inn). 2 Those concerned in 
property values to-day will learn with interest that the total 
sum paid to Charles the Second by the two Inns for the rever- 
sion at Queen Catherine's death was £160 — this and no more 



* Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 16, 745, f 40. 

1 Bellot, The Inner and Middle Temple, p. 25. Dr. Bellot says the 
cup, which was curiously engraven with " a church or Temple, beautified 
with turrets and pinnacles," in relief on one side, and an altar on the 
other, was " esteemed by James for one of his royalist and most richest 
jewels." Its cost was £666 13s. 4d., or in our money about £3,500. 
In 1625 it was pawned by Charles the First when in difficulties with 
his first Parliament, together with other plate, with an Amsterdam 
merchant, and has never reappeared. 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 209 

for all the wide acreage of the Temple from Fleet Street to the 
Thames, its courts, and cloisters, and gardens. 

The friars were crushed relentlessly, the Carmelites with 
the rest. George Burnham, prior of their house in Fleet Street 
in 1534, had been in almost indecent haste to give obedience 
to Henry, admit the lawfulness of his marriage with Anne 
Boleyn, and acknowledge him Supreme Head of the Church. 1 
John Bird, last Provincial of the Carmelites in England, had 
taken opportunity to find favour with the Sovereign by 
zealously preaching against the Papal pretensions. His 
reward was the bishopric of Bangor. When Queen Mary 
ascended the Throne he had been translated Bishop of Chester, 
and being found married, was promptly ejected ; he died in 
obscurity in 1558. Few others gained by the change. 

There is a luminous passage in Wriothesley's Chronicle ; 
' This year (1541) at the King's going his progress, he granted, 
to the citizens of London three churches of the Friars in 
London, the White, the Black, and the Grey." The inter- 
pretation of the words is doubtful, but of the effect there is no 
doubt. The Carmelite church, the pointed spire of which had 
been one of the conspicuous landmarks of mediaeval Fleet 
Street, rising high above the houses, was in a few years razed 
level with the ground. It had been destroyed by 1545. 2 
So thoroughly was the work performed that for centuries 
after even the exact site was unknown. 

I can imagine the reader's difficulty in realising how a great 
church, with tower and spire, and nave and side-chapels stored 
with monuments of the dead, can have disappeared like a 
spectre. This was not an insignificant church. John of 
Northampton, as told in an earlier chapter, had marched 
there with 500 followers in 1384 to hear a Mass. But go 
yourself to St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield. A broad 
path, taking many steps to traverse, leads to the door. To 
the left is a burial ground, the gravestones overgrown with 
moss. All is open to the sky. The great nave of the monastic 
church stretched across all this wide space and more, the 
fragment of the church now in use for worship, large as it is, 
being merely the choir and lady-chapel. Of all the piles of 

1 Rymer's Foedera, xiv, 487. 

2 Monumenta Francisana (Roils Series), ii t 209, 

14 — [2246) 



210 FLEET STREET 

masonry that went to the making of the vast nave and towers 
of St. Bartholomew the Great, tons heaped upon tons, only 
a small arch of the western door, used as a gateway, and a 
few stones of the southern wall remain above ground. 

About the Carmelite church were clustered the various 
houses of the White Friars. They fell into the King's gift, 
and Henry dispersed them with Royal munificence amongst 
those persons who happened at the time to enjoy his favour. 
Sir William Butts, the Royal physician, gained most by the 
friars' dispossession. He received by grant the chapter-house, 
the Prior's lodging, the sextry, the choir first built (" the Olde 
Quere ") two parts of the friars' dormitory, and the woodyard. 
For all these the modest rent was required of him of two 
shillings. x He was the Dr. Butts of Shakespeare's play, a 
man justly eminent in his profession. The King and his 
Queens, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, the Princess (after- 
wards Queen) Mary, Henry FitzRoy, the King's natural son, 
Cardinal Wolsey, the Duke of Norfolk, Sir Thomas Lovell, 
George Boleyn, and Lord Rochford are known to have been 
his patients. 2 His portrait appears in Holbein's picture in 
Barber-Surgeon's Hall of King Henry the Eighth delivering 
their charter to the Barber-Surgeons. 

Dr. Butts died in November, 1545, and Edward the Sixth, 
in the first year of his reign, granted his house in the White- 
friars, with the whole church [ ? site] belonging to the Priory, 
and appurtenances, to the Bishop of Worcester and his 
successors in pure and perpetual alms. 3 

The friars' library, fratry, kitchen, and some other buildings, 
with the convent garden, were granted by King Henry the 
Eighth in fee to Richard Morrison, the King's armourer, 
who acquired much other ecclesiastical property in Worcester, 
Yorks, Warwickshire, and elsewhere. The provincial's lodging 
was the reward of Sir Richard Page, a King's servant ; the 
friars' brewhouse went to Erasmus Crykener and his wife. 4 
Lands and buildings yet remained with which Henry could be 
generous, as in 1545 that monarch granted a messuage and 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 15, No. 942 (105). 
a Diet. National Biography, Sir William Butts. 
1 Patent Roll, 1st Edward VI. 

4 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol, 14, No. 678 (24) ; p. 717, 
f. 37, b. ; No. 878 (3). 



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CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 211 

chamber, with appurtenances, and the house and buildings 
under the premises, and two gardens and two stables, late 
portions of the White Friars' settlement, to Lord De-la-Warr, 
and one messuage and tenement to Thomas Bochier. x At 
Temple Bar, where afterwards stood the Marigold, and to-day 
Child's Bank, the Carmelites possessed a small estate separated 
from Whitefriars. This Henry the Eighth granted by Letters 
Patent in 1542 to Sir John Nash, one of the pages of his chamber, 
and Alice his wife. 2 Four separate tenements in St. Dunstan's 
parish belonging to the friars were given to John Gylmen, 
Serjeant of the Woodyard, for life ; and The Black Swan inn, 
another Carmelite possession in Fleet Street, went to Alexander 
Hudson. 3 

Sir John Cheeke, tutor to Edward the Sixth, afterwards his 
Secretary of State, had a house in Whitefriars. Some of the 
old priory buildings long survived in varying stages of dilapida- 
tion, and gave shelter to the refugees in Alsatia. The refectory 
served a lay purpose when used for the staging of Elizabethan 
plays. The Great Fire of London swept over the dismantled 
settlement, destroying its last vestiges above ground. 

The Carmelite Priory at Whitefriars was surrendered to the 
King on the 10th November, 1538, and its value (over which 
Stow and Dugdale differ) may be gathered from this entry 
in the Ministers' Accounts, 31st and 32nd Henry the Eighth — 

House of Friers Carmelite 

£ ». d. 
Lands, Tenements, and Gardens, in Fleet Street, in the 

parish of St. Dunstan 29 10 

Tenements and Gardens within the site of the House 50 8 

Obits and Anniversaries . . . . . . . . 6 8 



£79 17 4 

Among the lands and tenements, are mentioned " le borys 
hede " and a tenement for brewing called " le Bolte & tunne," 
both of which have left their names surviving in Fleet Street 
alleys. The total sum is not large, but money possessed 

1 Patent Roll, 36th Henry VIII. 

1 Inq. post mortem, City of London (British Record Society), pt. 2, 
pp. 87-90. 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 16, No. 678 (24) ; vol. 19, 
No. 1035 (15). 



212 FLEET STREET 

many times its present value. John Gybbys, the last Prior, 
received a pension of £10, but there is nothing in the Augmen- 
tation books to show that provision of any sort was made for 
the humbler friars then driven out of their old home. 

The deed of surrender is in the vast collection of State 
documents at the Public Record Office, attached being a 
seal in fine state of preservation. The document bears the 
signatures of bachelor John Gybbys, prior, Thomas Lemster, 
" sacre pagine bach," and eleven friars, whose names, as the 
last of their race in England (though the Order has been 
revived) I append — 

John Gybbys. Thomas Dubdik. 

Thomas Lemster. John Eglesto. 

Nicholas Prane. Johem Symyng. 

Willm. Adrews. Guidone Lilly. 

John Wormy ton. Thoma Foden. 

Thomas Hellyer. Henricu Crowder. 

Philipp Day. 

There was no statute to effect the dispossession of the 
provincial bishops' town houses, but it followed as a natural 
corollary, in some cases rapidly, in others at a longer interval. 
Lambeth Palace to this day is the metropolitan seat of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bishop of Ely had a town 
house at No. 37, Dover Street, Piccadilly, among the clubs 
(a substitute forced upon a predecessor by a hard bargain for 
his magnificent pleasance in Ely Place, Holborn) until the 
year 1907, when the Ecclesiastical Commissioners authorised 
Dean Chase to sell it for cash. In Fleet Street a part of the 
site of the Abbot of Peterborough's inn continued to be 
ecclesiastical property down to 1862. 

The Reformation had not proceeded far, however, before the 
bishops' establishments in London were broken up, and the 
buildings converted to other uses. The prelates lived per- 
manently in their sees. This, and the destruction of the 
priories, made the great change brought about in the suburb 
in King Henry the Eighth's reign ; it altered entirely the 
character which Fleet Street had possessed throughout the 
Middle Ages, when the houses of the churchmen, with their 
gardens and orchards behind enclosing walls, elbowed the 
citizens away. Henry the Eighth littered the suburb with 
ruins. A period of compact building set in only with Elizabeth, 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 213 

but with the departure of the ecclesiastics Fleet Street became 
a place for residence and commerce ; and to-day commerce 
alone remains. 

Salisbury House had pre-eminence among the bishops' 
inns within the City's liberties by reason of its extensive 
buildings, its large area of ground, and its water frontage — 
the last a valued amenity when the Thames was the chief 
route of communication. This use of the river is recalled b y 
an epigram written long after of Sherlock, a Master of the 
Temple, who became Bishop of London at a time when both 
London and Canterbury happened to fall vacant — 

At the Temple one day Sherlock taking a boat, 

The waterman asked him, " Which way will you float ? " 

" Which way ? " says the Doctor, " Why, fool, with the stream ! " 

To St. Paul's or to Lambeth was all one to him. 

Enjoying these advantages, Salisbury House, the site of 
which is now covered by St. Bride's Passage, Salisbury Square, 
and adjoining streets, was often borrowed by Sovereigns of the 
Middle Ages for the accommodation of visiting princes and 
ambassadors. Queen Mary followed their example. Corier, 
one of the ambassadors sent early in 1554 to negotiate her 
Majesty's marriage with Philip of Spain, was lodged there with 
Philip Negri, the Chancellor, and had " great feasting of the 
Queen and lords." 1 To each of the Royal guests the City 
sent presents of wax torches, flour, and every kind of meat, 
game, and poultry. Elizabeth housed the French Ambassador 
at Salisbury House. Its subsequent record belongs to a later 
period, and as the town residence of the Earls of Dorset it 
survived until the Great Fire of London, when it was burnt 
down, and not rebuilt ; but it will be convenient to dispose of 
all the bishops' residences here. 

Early in Elizabeth's reign, Salisbury House passed from the 
possession of John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, to Sir Richard 
Sackville, father of the first Earl of Dorset. By what means 
it would be curious to know. Judging from Elizabeth's rough 
handling of the Bishop of Ely when she required his inn and 
rose-garden at Ely Place, Holborn, for her dancing Chancellor, 
Sir Richard Hatton, it was anything but regular — even though 
the oft-told story of her threat to Ely, " Proud prelate, if you 

1 Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Society), ii, 105. 



214 FLEET STREET 

do not immediately comply with my request, by God ! I will 
unfrock you ! " be based upon a forgery. Elizabeth " com- 
mitted the use " — a tender euphuism — of Durham House, 
Strand, the waterside residence of the Bishop of that diocese, 
to another favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh. We know that the 
See of Salisbury was profoundly dissatisfied with its bargain, 
by which was received in exchange land near Cricklade, in 
Wilts, the title not being good, nor did its value answer the 
promise. Sackville's tenure was admittedly bad, and there is 
in the State Papers of 1611 a confirmation to his successor of 
the grant of the property off Fleet Street on his compounding 
for defective title. 

The document of transfer I had small hope of seeing, when 
by a lucky chance it came my way. A transcript copy was 
placed at my disposal by Mr. Aleck Abrahams, a great collector 
of manuscripts and books about the Fleet Street area of London, 
from whose stores readers of Notes and Queries have often 
profited. I have a healthy prejudice towards honesty, but 
admit feeling glad when, after I have used his library, he has 
himself attended me to the door. The transcript in his posses- 
sion is written in a neat Elizabethan legal hand, and bears 
internal evidence of near contemporary date. It makes clear 
so much that is otherwise confused, that in view of its impor- 
tance to London topography I have printed the document in 
an appendix. 

It shows that the sum paid by Sackville was £641 5s. 10£d. 
A wall enclosed the fine house and gardens, stretching from the 
existing line of Salisbury Court south to the Thames, but the 
bishop's manor, which also passed in the transfer, contained 
much else ; shops and tenements in and about Fleet Street 
extending from St. Bride's church to Water Lane (Whitefriars 
Street) to the number of twenty-eight ; four shops in St. 
Bride's churchyard ; eighteen houses in Salisbury Court, 
and three others in the " Great Court " ; wharves by the river ; 
the great house known as The Hanging Sword at the Water 
Lane corner of Fleet Street, and twenty-four houses about 
Hanging Sword Alley — in short the whole of the land lying 
between Bridewell and Water Lane from Fleet Street to the 
Thames, and that part outside the bishop's garden wall well 
covered with houses, gardens, and orchards. It is interesting, 
and so far as publication is concerned, entirely new, to find 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 215 

Hanging Sword Alley in existence so early as 1564, the bargain 
having taken place in the sixth year of Elizabeth. The 
arrangement made was a tripartite one, Sir Richard Sackville 
paying to Elizabeth's Exchequer the sum of £641 5s. 10 £d., 
the Queen on her part undertaking to grant under the Great 
Seal to the Bishop of Salisbury the lands in Wiltshire, part of 
which had been parcel of a lately dissolved monastery, and 
jointure of Henry's divorced Queen Catherine, and the bishop 
covenanting to convey his London house and manor to Sir 
Richard Sackville. 

Already Sir Richard was in occupancy of the bishop's 
residence, and filled public office as Under-Treasurer, so was 
well placed for a " squeeze." 

The first Earl of Dorset — builder of the beautiful Elizabethan 
home of the Sackvilles at Knole, Kent — enlarged the bishop's 
mansion with stately buildings (Stow) befitting the town 
residence of one of the wealthiest families of that day ; all, 
unfortunately, destined to be consumed in the flames of 1666. 
It became first Sackville House, and then, when the earldom 
was conferred in 1603, Dorset House, by which name it is best 
known. Later, such was its extent, it appears to have been 
divided into Great and Little Dorset House. 

For a full century the noble family of Sackville maintained 
this close association with Fleet Street. They bred a fine 
race of men, two of the earls born in this house, and the part 
they played in the nation's affairs in times of political turmoil 
and open strife mark them as the street's most distinguished 
residents. Sir Richard Sackville, founder of the family, was 
a cousin of Queen Anne Boleyn, and a statesman under Edward 
the Sixth, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. A bitter jest 
upon his name — " Fill-sack " — tells of his gift of making much 
of opportunities. Thomas Sackville, his only son, created Baron 
Buckhurst and late in life, Earl of Dorset, Lord Treasurer 
and Lord High Steward of England, might stand for a type of 
Elizabeth's best noblemen; brave, upright, chivalrous, a polished 
courtier, owning a pleasant gift in verse — this last a family 
gift, for three of the earls were poets. He sat in Elizabeth's 
first Parliament ; he walked in her funeral procession ; and his 
public services cover the entire length of the incomparable reign. 

As Ambassador, on which mission he was frequently em- 
ployed, Lord Buckhurst had suffered the Queen's frowns as 



216 FLEET STREET 

well as merited her grace. Once, indeed, making him a 
scapegoat, Elizabeth rated him soundly for too closely following 
her instructions as Envoy to the States-General, when changed 
conditions made their performance inadvisable. She expressed 
scorn of his shallow judgment, which had spoiled the cause, 
impaired her honour, and shamed himself. When he returned 
to London the imperious Queen directed him to confine himself 
to Sackville House, where during a nine months' incarceration 
he obeyed her command so faithfully that he declined even to 
see his wife and children. It was Buckhurst, the ever faithful 
servant in fortune or adversity, who was sent to Fotheringay 
to announce to Mary Queen of Scots the sentence of death, 
a painful duty which he performed as considerately as was 
possible. The unhappy Queen presented him with a wood 
carving of the procession to Calvary, which is still preserved 
at Knole. 

His best-known contribution to literature is " A Mirror for 
Magistrates," a curious poem describing a descent into Hades, 
wherein the poet has converse with the heroic ghosts of English 
history. He wrote for it an " Induction," or preface, and a 
"Complaint of the Duke of Buckingham" (Henry Stafford, 
who recites his tragic story), leaving others to finish the work. 
The " Complaint " contains a passage of extraordinary virility 
depicting extreme old age — 

And next in order sad, Old Age we found ; 
His beard all hoar, his eyes hollow and blind ; 
With drooping cheer still poring on the ground, 
As on the place where Nature him assigned 
To rest, when that the sisters had untwined 
His vital thread, and ended with their knife 
The fleeting course of fast declining life. 
Crooked-back 'd he was, tooth shaken, and blear-eyed, 
Went on three feet, and sometimes crept on four, 
With old lame bones, that rattled by his side ; 
His scalp all pil'd, and he with eld forebore, 
His wither 'd fist still knocking at death's door ; 
Fumbling and drivelling, as he draws his breath ; 
For brief, the shape and messenger of death. 

Sir Sidney Lee says that Sackville's contributions give the 
volumes almost all their literary value. In dignified, forcible, 
and melodious expression his " Induction " has no rival among 
the poems issued between Chaucer's " Canterbury Tales " 
and Spenser's " Faerie Queene." Spenser acknowledged a 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 217 

large indebtedness to the " Induction," and he prefixed a 
sonnet to the " Faerie Queene " (1590) commending the 
author — 

Whose learned Muse hath writ her own record 

In golden verse, worthy immortal fame. x 

Literary remembrance is also assured by the earl's share in 
Gordobuc, the first English tragedy in blank verse, which was 
acted in Inner Temple Hall on Twelfth Night, 1560-61. He 
died at the Council table at Whitehall on the 19th April, 1608, 
and the body was taken to Dorset House, Fleet Street, before 
conveyance in state to Westminster Abbey, and burial at 
Withyham, the family seat in Sussex. His bowels were 
interred in old St. Bride's Church. 2 

Robert, second Earl of Dorset, " a man of singular learning 
and many sciences and languages, Greek and Latin being as 
familiar to him as his own natural tongue," survived his father 
less than a year, dying in Dorset House on the 27th February, 
1609. He was succeeded by Richard, third Earl of Dorset, 
who is chiefly remembered by the profligacy with which he 
squandered the fortunes of his house. " His debts are £60,000, 
so that he does not leave much," wrote Chamberlain to Sir 
Dudley Carleton at his death, and his executors had to appeal 
to the Council for protection against the creditors until they 
could dispose of the encumbered lands. 3 Lord Herbert of 
Cherbury records an incident which shows the earl in a more 
favourable light — 

Richard Earl of Dorset, to whom otherwise I was a stranger, one 
day (about 1616) invited me to Dorset House, where, bringing me into 
his gallery, and showing me many pictures, he at last brought me to a 
frame covered with green taffeta, and asked me who I thought was 
there, and therewithal presently withdrawing the curtain, showed me 
my own picture. 

Edward Sackville, the fourth earl, a brother of the spend- 
thrift, inherited the diminished estates with the title in 1624. 
Happily he was a man more of the stamp of his forefathers, 
but his devotion to the Royalist cause in the Civil War robbed 
him of much of the benefit that otherwise should have accrued 
from economy and good management. 

1 Diet. National Biography : Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset. 

* St. Bride's Burial Register, 1608, April 20. 

• State Papers (Domestic), 1624. March 30 and 31, Apr. 10. 



218 FLEET STREET 

He was at Edgehill in charge of the young Princes, one of 
whom, shortly before becoming King James the Second, told 
a creditable story of the warrior. " The old Earl of Dorset 
at Edgehill, being commanded by the King, my father, to go 
and carry the Prince and myself up the hill out of the battle, 
refused to do it, and said he would not be thought a coward 
for ever a king's son in Christendom." Loyal to the core, 
and ill-treated by either side — " assessed " for King Charles 
and fined by the Parliament — his loyalty did not prevent him 
protesting repeatedly against the continuance of the war. 
He was with Charles at Oxford, and signed the capitulation of 
that city in 1646. His wife, the daughter and heiress of Sir 
George Curzon of Croxhall, Derbyshire, had earlier been 
governess to the Royal children — two of her pupils became Kings 
of England — and for her services was allowed Knole House 
and Dorset House, and a pension of £600 a year. After King 
Charles's execution, the Earl is said never to have left his house 
in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. There he died on the 17th 
July, 1652. * Vandyke's portrait of him is at Knole. 

Richard Sackville, his son, and fifth Earl of Dorset, was 
born at Dorset House in 1622. A poet of small parts, and in 
early manhood when the Civil War broke out, he was both 
imprisoned and fined by the Parliament, but received honours 
from the returned King on the Restoration. In his time 
Dorset House was consumed in the Great Fire of London, and 
no Earl of Dorset has since resided in Fleet Street ; the suc- 
cession of the line through the Dukes of Dorset to the present 
Lord Sackville of Knole may be traced in Burke. So many 
other persons of note were lodged in Dorset House that it 
would appear that its noble owners either let the place for 
periods, or were content themselves with occupying but a 
portion of the spacious buildings. 

Lord Rich engaged in an affray in Fleet Street with Mr. 
Edmund Wyndham in 1579. Wyndham, being nearly over- 
powered by his assailant, found refuge in the house of the 
French Ambassador in Salisbury Court. Bacon, Lord Keeper 
before his disgrace, removed there in April, 1617, and a month 
later, 8th May, the State Papers contain a letter by him to 
the favourite Buckingham addressed from " Dorset House, 

1 Diet. National Biography, Edward Sackville, fourth Earl of Dorset. 







From the portrait by Vandyke at Knole 

EDWARD SACKVILLE, FOURTH EARL OF DORSET 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 219 

which puts me in mind to thank your lordship for your care of 
me touching York House." Algernon, Earl of Northumber- 
land, Admiral and General of the Fleet, addressed his orders 
for the Naval Expedition of 1637 from Dorset House, and his 
Countess died there. 

The Commonwealth, no friend of the Earls of Dorset, accom- 
modated the Spanish Ambassador at their town house in 1650. 
Five years later the Swedish Ambassador became the guest. 
The loyal Marquis of Newcastle occupied a part of the mansion 
at the Restoration. So recently as the 19th July, 1909, the 
last association of the Sackville family with the property they 
had enjoyed for nearly four centuries was severed by the sale 
at the Mart of fourteen lots of freehold ground rents, being the 
remaining balance of the estate. 

Seen from the street or from the river, this was the largest 
and most convenient of the old bishops' inns in the suburb 
that fell to other uses under the ecclesiastical repression of 
Tudor Sovereigns ; but there were more. Shoe Lane pos- 
sessed Bangor House, the seat of the bishops of that diocese, 
the origin of which has been dealt with earlier. It was confis- 
cated during the Parliamentary regime, and sold by the trustees 
for the sale of bishops' lands in 1647 to Sir John Barkstead, 
Knight. The place had fallen into great decay, being then 
" both dangerous and noisome to the passengers and inhabitants 
near adjoining " — this is the Commons' account in their own 
Journal — and Sir John, undertaking to pay to the Lord 
Protector one year's full and improved rent of all the buildings 
he erected, obtained liberty to build thereon such houses 
as he might think fit at the close of the then existing lease. 
Cromwell's Act of 1657 to check the increase of London 
contained a special exemption in his favour. But the knight 
did not build, and at the Restoration the bishop received 
back his own. 

Bangor House was never again used as an episcopal residence. 
Dr. Dolben, sometime vicar of Hackney, was the last Bishop 
of Bangor to reside on the spot, and died there in 1633, 
being buried at Hackney. The ground was leased out and 
some inferior dwellings raised upon it, the only relics of its 
former state surviving in the middle eighteenth century being 
a rookery and a garden planted with lime trees. The mansion 
itself had been divided into tenements, then occupied by 



220 FLEET STREET 

between two and three hundred persons of the lowest class. 
An octangular bay-window, or projection of the building, of 
two storeys filled with casements, was almost all that was left 
of the ancient structure in 1805. * In that year an engraving 
was published of this surviving fragment. 

The Bishop of Bangor obtained an Act of Parliament in 1826, 
enabling him to sell the house to the parish of St. Andrew, 
Holborn, and within two years every vestige of it had been 
removed. Bangor Court, which led to the prelate's inn, has 
gone the same way. 

Occupying the corner site of Fleet Street over against 
Bridewell, where now is Ludgate Circus, was the Bishop of 
St. Davids' inn. It was granted in the reign of the young 
King Edward the Sixth in fee farm for a mark rent to Dr. 
Huick, 2 a physician of eminence, who afterwards lived there. 
The Bishop of Chichester's hostel in Chancery Lane, as already 
explained, had earlier become Lincoln's Inn. The Abbot of 
Peterborough's house, the Popinjay, and other ecclesiastical 
possessions in Fleet Street, are dealt with in other chapters. 

Long familiarity with a favourite song has made the Vicar 
of Bray an accepted type of the trimming churchman. I 
fancy a better may be found without going beyond the Temple. 
Dr. William Ermested was Master of the Temple in Henry the 
Eighth's reign, a priest under the Prior of the Order of St. 
John of Jerusalem, subject to the supremacy of the Pope. 
The Reformation came, and he accepted the altered conditions, 
acknowledged the Sovereign as Head of the Church, and 
continued Master of the Temple. Edward the Sixth introduced 
new changes into the Articles of Religion, and Ermested was 
able to comply. Most remarkable of all, when Mary became 
Queen, restoring the Hospitallers and the Roman Catholic 
faith and ritual, Ermested returned to his earlier views, and 
remained in office, and apparently in favour. He was still 
Master of the Temple. Finally, under Elizabeth, Dr. 
Ermested was equal to a fourth accommodation, and he died 
in 1560 a Protestant pastor admitting the supremacy of the 
Crown in matters religious, Master of the Temple to the 
last. 

1 Wilkinson's Londina. 

2 Strype, Survey. 



CHANGE AT THE REFORMATION 221 

The puzzle of this elastic conscience I do not attempt to 
unravel, but it has been suggested that while necessarily 
there were modifications in the services of the Temple Church, 
probably nowhere in London did the Reformation cause less 
interference with established custom. I come in a new chapter 
to a churchman of a much different stamp. 



CHAPTER X 

THE MARTYRED VICAR OF ST. BRIDE'S 

And they both passed through the fire to the blessed rest and peace 
among God's holy saints and martyrs, to enjoy the crown of triumph 
and victory prepared for the elect soldiers and warriors of Christ 
Jesus in his blessed kingdom. To whom be glory and majesty for 
Ever. Amen ! — Foxe, Burning of John Cardmaker and John Warne. 

Far down on the roll of vicars of St. Bride's, Fleet Street, 
back to the reign of Edward the Sixth, will be found the name 
of John Cardmaker. High preferment fell to him ; he was 
lecturer at St. Paul's, and Prebendary and Chancellor of Wells ; 
but the glory that enshrines his memory belongs to his last 
moments, when he fell a victim to the Marian persecution. 
But for the tragedy of his end, the man would have been 
imperfectly understood. The only portrait that could have 
been drawn of him would be false, and almost of necessity 
the church of that Reformed Faith for which he gave his life 
must have done him less than justice. The truth flashes up 
in the flame which played about the martyr chained to the 
stake in Smithfield. 

It is a curious experience to read Foxe's martyrology. 
Strange emotions arise. What manner of men were those 
who went unflinchingly to death in its most awful form, having 
eliminated by faith every human frailty ? I confess that, 
though admiration is enforced, to myself there is something 
uncanny about them, something that causes one to shudder 
and draw away, unworthy though such a feeling may be. In 
the noble army of martyrs were many persons ignorant and 
unlettered — a harassed woman, at times a mere lad. In deter- 
mination these were no whit less brave than scholars and 
divines whose lives had been spent in teaching the doctrines for 
which at last they made the great sacrifice. But often, until 
braced for the final ordeal, the narrative shows that human 
weakness is threaded amid the strands that make the stoutest 
courage, and I like the character of John Cardmaker not less, 
but more, for the evident humanity of the man. 

He was Devonshire born, a native of Exeter. Of his parent- 
age I can find nothing ; I cannot even explain the name. 

222 



THE MARTYRED VICAR OF ST. BRIDE'S 223 

Known commonly as John Cardmaker, he bore the alternative 
name of John Taylor, whatever the purpose of the alias may 
have been ; and as Taylor Bishop Bonner addressed him 
in his accusation. Both Oxford and Cambridge claim him as a 
son, for he studied at the two universities, leaving them with 
the reputation of a sound scholar and controversialist. The 
Roman Church was as yet unshaken in England. Cardmaker 
had taken the vows of an Observant Friar. It is known that 
in 1532 he supplicated the University of Oxford that he might 
proceed to the degree of bachelor of divinity, but whether 
admitted does not appear. Perhaps his freedom of opinion 
on points of doctrine held by the Church to be most sacred and 
essential had already been in evidence. We hear of him with 
the Crutched Friars early in 1536, when Hilsey, Bishop of 
Rochester, visited their priory in London, forbade certain 
of them to hear confession, " and set Cardmaker and oder in 
their places." 1 

The storm burst. Then, after a spell, came the forcible 
dissolution of the religious houses by Henry the Eighth, with 
exhibitions of brutality well calculated to have excited the 
pitying sympathy even of those who rejected the ancient 
faith : priors hanged at their gates, nuns and monks turned 
adrift, and monastic buildings that had been the pride of the 
city reduced to mere heaps of stones, soon to be carted away. 
London was littered with ruins that the supremacy of Rome 
in the religious affairs of England might be overthrown. Soon 
after this, John Cardmaker, whose Order had been suppressed 
with the rest — had, indeed, been the object of severe perse- 
cution — came forward as one of the most active propagandists 
of the new scheme of things. 

The change of front is not a little startling. The man who 
had accepted the strict Franciscan rule lapsed into worldliness. 
The friar, sworn to celibacy, took a widow as his bride, and the 
birth of a daughter followed the union. He who had vowed 
obedience became notorious for his denial of the power and 
pretensions of the Pope. It was true, he confessed to Bonner, 
" that he, being under age, did profess the Order of Saint 
Francis." That reply savours more of the world than of the 
Church. 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 10, No. 462. 



224 FLEET STREET 

The biographer of John Cardmaker is under no need to 
question the sincerity of his convictions. No action of his 
conveys a suggestion that he was insincere. He must have 
been still a young man when the upheaval came, with a mind 
susceptible to the doubts that he now heard openly expressed 
as to the truth of those doctrines which for centuries past had 
been accepted with unquestioning belief. It was his lot to be 
thrown into a time of the acutest passion and controversy, and 
he upheld the cause of the Reformed Church with all the vigour 
at his command ; often, no doubt, with language displaying 
a coarseness that happily is now unknown in the pulpit. 

Cardmaker was admitted Vicar of St. Bride's on the 21st 
November, 1543, when Henry the Eighth still reigned. But 
little is known of him until Edward the Sixth ascended the 
throne in 1547, in which year Cardmaker became lecturer at 
St. Paul's. The parish church in which he preached was 
consumed in the Great Fire of London, and of his parochial 
ministrations neither record nor tradition survives. That is 
not to be wondered at after three and a half centuries have 
passed ; the parishes are few indeed which possess more than 
the names of those who held the cure in the distant reign of 
Edward the Sixth. 

Cardmaker was one of three special preachers chosen to 
conduct services at the St. Mary Spital when the altered Prayer 
Book created some religious discontent. 1 

Almost all of his preserved sayings are associated with his 
work at the metropolitan cathedral, where he lectured three 
times a week. There he openly attacked Gardiner, who later 
was to be his judge, and preached freely in denial of the ancient 
Faith. He taught that the Sacrament was but bread and wine. 
The violence of his attacks on the Papacy, while strengthening 
the adherents of the Reformed Church, so angered and excited 
the Roman Catholic party that they abused him to his face 
while in the pulpit, and with their knives cut and mangled 
his gown behind his back. A time of peril came on the Pro- 
tector Somerset's first fall, when Catholics looked forward 
expectantly to a religious reaction, but in vain. Cardmaker 
spoke boldly and strongly in his lecture at St. Paul's against 
the victorious faction of Warwick. " He said that although 

1 Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Society). 



THE MARTYRED VICAR OF ST. BRIDE'S 225 

Somerset (proclaimed a traitor) had had a fall, he was not 
undone, and also that men would have set up again their 
Popish mass." 

In horror the compiler of the Grey Friars' Chronicle in 1549 
tells that Cardmaker declared openly in his lecture at St. 
Paul's that if God were a man He was six or seven feet in length, 
with the [corresponding] breadth, and if it be so, how came it 
to be that He should be in a piece of bread in a round cake on 
the altar ? " What an erroneous opinion is this unto the lay 
people ! " comments the worthy friar. *■ 

Cardmaker had become Prebendary and Chancellor of 
Wells in the year that he took up his lectureship at St. Paul's, 
and with these appointments he retained the vicarage of St. 
Bride's, but resigned the living in 1551. 

The death of the boy King Edward the Sixth in 1553, and the 
accession to the throne of Mary Tudor, brought home to him 
the full sense of his danger. He can have been under no 
illusion as to the strength of the passions he had set loose. 
At Wells his ministrations had been met with the most obstinate 
hostility. There is in the State Papers a letter from Dr. 
Turner, then newly appointed Dean of Wells, to Cecil, the 
King's Secretary, wherein the curious may read of the difficul- 
ties which beset the diocese. " We have a schoolmaster here," 
he says, " a man of very corrupt and evil judgment, yea, a 
man of naughty life ; who was a year in the Marshalsea for 
Papistry, and he, delivered by the King's general pardon, 
as yet hath not recanted his false doctrine, but, as I am informed, 
defendeth privily the same ; wherefore Master Cardmaker, our 
Chancellor, by virtue of his office, intendeth to put this man 
out." Later in the same letter the Dean writes : " Without 
[the King's] letters we shall be able to do nothing, for they are 
all against Mr. Cardmaker and me, whom they handle as 
wards. I have preached eight times since Easter, but I could 
not make one of them preach, saving Master Cardmaker, 
who preached once, and hath read oft-times." 2 

As the tide of reaction rose, Cardmaker was deprived of his 
spiritualities, and with his bishop — William Barlow, of Bath 
and Wells — he attempted to escape over sea. For that purpose 

1 Grey Friars' Chronicle, pp. 36, 64. 

' Tytler, England under Edward VI and Mary, pp. 373-4. 

15— (2246) 



226 FLEET STREET 

the two came to London disguised as merchants, 1 but were 
seized and committed to the Fleet Prison. This was in 
November, 1554. Late in the following January they were 
brought before the prelates appointed to examine the faith 
of such as were then prisoners for religion, numbering some 
eighty in all. Bishop Gardiner, Mary's reactionary Chancellor 
of England, presided over the commission, which sat at the 
church of St. Mary Overy, now the Southwark Cathedral. 
The examination, in one case at least, was indecisive, though 
Barlow appears to have recanted, and so saved his life. 
Froude calls him " a feeble enthusiast." 

It is more difficult to form a conclusion regarding the former 
vicar of St. Bride's. As with the others, the Queen's mercy 
was offered to him if he would conform, by repudiating the 
heresies to which he had given such bold expression, from the 
pulpit of St. Paul's cathedral, from Wells, and from his parish 
church of St. Bride's. There is his own statement, afterwards 
made, that " by a policy " he so replied to his examiners as 
for a little to prolong his life. Gardiner, it is sure, was anxious 
for nothing so much as the submission of the truculent pro- 
tagonist who, in the days of its repression, had directed blow 
after blow against the Church that once more was all powerful 
in England. Others might burn ; this man, humbled in his 
pride, made publicly to recant the doctrines he had advanced 
and to accept all that he had rejected, living on broken and 
humiliated, would have been a more effective object lesson in 
the flesh than others in the flame. What an example, to quote 
Foxe's words, of a shrinking brother to lay in the dish of the 
rest that were to be examined ! If indecision characterised 
Cardmaker's replies to Gardiner, as seems to have been the case, 
it may have shown weakness ; that is human : but there is 
another and not less plausible explanation. The two men 
were fencing, the one to gain time, the other to gain a 
submission to Rome ; it was a contest of sharp wits. 

Little does it matter. The stoutest heart may on occasion 
quail ; and the world will continue to think of John Card- 
maker only as the martyr who with his life nobly vindicated 
his faith, and of the crowning act which redeemed all other 
faults, if faults there were. Be this as it may, the commission 

1 Machyn's Diary (Camden Society), p. 75. 



THE MARTYRED VICAR OF ST. BRIDE'S 227 

expressed themselves satisfied, and to others who came after 
Gardiner instanced the example of Barlow and Cardmaker, 
commending their soberness, discretion, and learning. Barlow 
was sent back to the Fleet Prison, whence he was either liberated 
or permitted to escape, and after taking refuge on the Con- 
tinent he returned to England under Elizabeth, to enjoy 
further ecclesiastical honours as Bishop of Chichester. In 
the cathedral of that city he lies buried. 

Cardmaker was confined after examination in the Bread 
Street Compter, Bonner, the persecuting Bishop of London, 
causing it to be published that he should shortly be released 
after he had subscribed to transubstantiation and certain other 
articles. 

To this cell was brought Laurence Saunders, Rector of All 
Hallows, Bread Street, already excommunicated and under 
condemnation. What passed between the two martyrs in 
earnest conference behind the prison walls none can tell, but 
it has been thought that Cardmaker was fortified and reani- 
mated by the undaunted zeal of his fellow-captive. His subse- 
quent action after Saunders had been led out to the stake at 
Coventry shows no sign of wavering. His mind was fixed, 
and he waited only for death. The months dragged on while 
a weary polemic waged on points of Catholic doctrine, in which 
Dr. Martin wrote at length as champion of the Church of Rome, 
and Cardmaker in letters replied " largely, learnedly, and 
substantially." We at this time have no need to share Foxe's 
regret that the whole of the writings have been lost. Better 
by far they should have perished. The prisoner for Faith 
thrust from his sight the prospect of liberty offered to him, 
stout in his Protestantism, recanting nothing, knowing full 
well that he was writing his death warrant. 

On the 25th May, 1555, he was taken before Bonner at St. 
Paul's, and again examined for heresy. The articles and 
replies are preserved. As to his acceptance of the vows of 
poverty, chastity, and obedience under the rule of St. Francis, 
and his having received all the orders of the Church, Card- 
maker answered and confessed " that he, being under age, did 
profess the same order and religion, and that by authority of 
King Henry the Eighth he was dispensed with for the same 
religion. " Marriage and child he admitted, asserting that in 
marriage he broke no vow, because he was set at liberty to 



228 FLEET STREET 

marry, both by the laws of this realm and by the laws and 
ordinances of the Church of the same. That he had taught 
the Catholic belief in the real presence he acknowledged, 
but answered " that he does not believe the same to be true 
in any part thereof." The same direct denial served for the 
remainder of the ten articles of accusation. 

Fearing that he had not made himself plain beyond cavil, 
the next day he appended a schedule to his replies to dispel 
any possibility of doubt. He was committed to Newgate, 
condemned to be burnt alive. 

There are two documents to recall as the tragedy draws to 
its close. One is a letter from John Cardmaker to a friend — 

The peace of God be with you — You shall well perceive that I am 
not gone back, as some men do report of me, but am as ready to give 
my life, as any of my brethren that are gone before me ; although by 
a policy I have a little prolonged it, and that for the best, as already it 
appeareth unto me, and shall shortly appear unto all. That day that 
I recant any point of doctrine I shall surfer twenty kinds of death, the 
Lord being mine assistance ; as I doubt not but he will. Commend me 
to my friend, and tell him no less. This the Lord strengthen you, me, 
and all his elect. My riches and poverty is as it was wont to be, and 
I have learned to rejoice in poverty as well as in riches, for that count 
I now to be very riches. 

Thus fare ye well in Christ. Salute all my brethren in my name. 
I have conferred with some of my adversaries, learned men, and I find 
them to be but sophists and shadows. 

In the five days' interval between sentence and execution 
there came to Newgate Gaol one Beard, a " promoter," sent by 
the commission to learn of the condemned man if he would 
recant or no — 

Cardmaker. — " This I pray you report of me to those who sent you. 
I know you are a tailor by your occupation, and have endeavoured 
yourself to be a keen workman, and thereby to get your living. I have 
been a preacher these twenty years, and ever since that God, by his 
great mercy, hath opened mine eyes to see his eternal truth, I have 
by his grace endeavoured myself to call upon him, to give me the true 
understanding of his holy word ; and, I thank him for his great mercy, 
I hope I have discharged my conscience in the setting forth of the same, 
according to the little talent I have received." 

" Ay, but what say you," says Beard, " to the Blessed Sacrament 
of the altar ? " 

To him he replied by way of question, whether the sacrament he 
spoke of had a beginning or no. Which when he granted, Mr. Card- 
maker thus infer'd, " If the sacrament as you confess hath a beginning 
and will have an end, then it cannot be God, who hath no beginning, 
nor ending." Upon which he departed from him. 



THE MARTYRED VICAR OF ST. BRIDE'S 229 

With Cardmaker there had stood before Bishop Bonner at 
St. Paul's John Warne, a man of humble station, a cloth- 
worker by trade, living near Walbrook, who also was charged 
with holding heretical opinions. They were alike condemned 
to the flames, and together were brought by the sheriffs to 
Smithfield on the 30th May, 1555, to suffer their fate. Arrived 
there, the sheriffs took Cardmaker aside, and talked with him 
in secret so long, that Warne had made his prayers, and was 
chained to the stake, and had wood and reed set about him, 
nothing being wanted but the firing, while still his companion 
dallied in conversation. The people, says the old martyrolo- 
gist, who had before heard that Cardmaker would recant, 
on beholding this manner of doing were in a marvellous dump 
and sadness, thinking, indeed, that Cardmaker would now 
recant at the burning of Warne. 

At length he departed from the sheriffs, and came towards 
the stake, and in his garments as he was kneeled down and 
made a long prayer in silence to himself ; yet the people 
confirmed themselves in the fantasy of his recanting, seeing 
him in his garments, praying secretly, and no semblance of any 
burning. 

His prayers being ended, he rose up, put off his clothes 
unto his shirt, and went with bold courage to the stake and 
kissed it sweetly ; he took Warne by the hand and comforted 
him heartily ; and so gave himself to be also bound to the 
stake most gladly. The people, seeing this so suddenly done, 
contrary to their fearful expectation, as men delivered out of a 
great doubt cried out for joy (with so great a shout as hath not 
lightly been heard a greater) saying, " God be praised ! The 
Lord strengthen thee, Cardmaker ; the Lord Jesus receive 
thy spirit ! " And this continued while the executioner put 
fire to them. Foxe's sounding phrases at the head of this 
chapter fittingly close the story. 



CHAPTER XI 

REBELLION 

Had Wyatt succeeded, Mary would have lost her husband and her 
crown ; and had the question been no more than a personal one, 
England could well have dispensed both with her and with Philip. 
But Elizabeth would have ascended a throne under the shadow of 
treason. The Protestants would have come back to power in the 
thoughtless vindictiveness of exasperated and successful revolu- 
tionists ; and the problem of the Reformation would have been 
farther than ever from a reasonable solution. — J. A. Froude, History 
of England. 

London has seen surprisingly little of war. The sea has been 
its bulwark rather than its own walls. 

Twice it has happened, however, that Fleet Street has been 
the theatre of active revolt against the Crown, and momentarily 
the thrones of two Queens were in jeopardy. 

Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion of 1554 ended pitifully. It 
failed to prevent the Spanish marriage. It sent Lady Jane 
Grey, a prisoner under sentence in the Tower, but whose life 
till then was likely to have been spared, to the block on Tower 
Green, a few hours after her young husband, Guilford Dudley, 
had bent to the stroke of the headsman's axe on the public 
scaffold without the fortress. It filled London with ghastly 
evidence of Queen Mary's vengeance. At every point where 
two important streets crossed gallows were erected, and from 
the cross-beams dangled the corpses of Wyatt's adherents. 
The purpose of Mary's advisers was to bring home to the 
discontented populace the consequences of revolt against an 
enthroned monarch, and was well served. 

The rebellion actually failed at London Bridge, though it did 
not finally flicker out until, after a circuitous march, Fleet 
Street was reached. Froude has told the story of the successful 
rising in Kent and the advance upon the capital, where the 
strangeness of the situation appalled even the stout-hearted 
Mary herself. The lawyers at Westminster Hall pleaded 
in harness, and the judges wore harness under their robes ; 
Doctor Weston sang mass in harness before the Queen ; trades- 
men attended in harness behind their counters. The 
metropolis, on both sides of the water, was in an attitude of 

230 



REBELLION 231 

armed expectation. Yet there was no popular movement, 
no demonstration on either side of popular feeling. 

London Bridge, where Wyatt's forces had been brought up, 
was in Queen Mary's time a long, narrow street, with houses 
on both sides. A gate was at the Southwark extremity ; the 
drawbridge near the middle. At night Wyatt scaled the leads 
of the gatehouse, climbed to a window, and descended the 
stairs into the lodge. The porter and his wife were nodding 
over a fire. The rebel leader bade them on their lives be still, 
and stole along in the darkness to the chasm from which the 
drawbridge had been cut away. There, looking across the 
black gulf where the river was rolling below, he saw the dusky 
mouths of four gaping cannon, and beyond them, in the 
torchlight, Lord William Howard keeping watch with the 
guard. Neither force nor skill could make a way into the 
City by London Bridge. * 

Wyatt determined to cross the river at Kingston-on-Thames, 
and enter London by its western gate. His wiser proposal to 
turn and fight the force which was coming up behind him from 
Rochester, and cross at Greenwich, had been frustrated by the 
ill-will of his followers, who feared that he meant to escape. 
With a mere 1,500 men he set out on the long march. The sun 
was sinking when his motley army arrived at Kingston, and it 
was eleven o'clock before they made the Middlesex bank. 
Part of the bridge had been destroyed. The gap was passed 
over by utilising barges and planks, but the conditions of a 
wild February night and roads deep in mire, with the break- 
down of a gun at Brentford, caused harassing delays, and it 
was nine next morning before the young leader brought his 
force, wet, hungry, and faint with their toil, up the hill from 
Knightsbridge. 

A charge by a few determined men would have broken and 
scattered the disordered ranks, and ended the rebellion. 
Mary had few soldiers upon whom she could rely. The train- 
bands opened a way to permit the rebels to pass. From a 
window in the gatehouse of St. James's Palace the anguished 
Queen watched them go by unmolested. A troop of horse 
had cut them in two at Hyde Park corner, and there was some 
sharp skirmishing at Charing Cross, where the outcry of the 

1 Froude, History of England, Chap. 31. 



232 FLEET STREET 

women and children rose loud and shrill above the raging 
conflict so as to be heard on the leads of the White Tower, 
from which point also the firing of a cannon in St. James's 
fields could be seen. 

Still the leaders pressed on along the Strand, with a force 
depleted by casualties and still more by desertions. Wyatt 
appeared at the head of his band at Temple Bar. The 
Rochester men had, most of them, gone home, and those who 
remained were the London deserters, gentlemen who had 
compromised themselves too deeply for hope of pardon, or 
fanatics who believed they were fighting the Lord's battle, and 
some of the Protestant clergy. Ponet, the late Bishop of 
Winchester, was with them ; William Thomas, late clerk of 
the council ; Sir George Harper, Anthony Knyvet, Lord 
Cobham's sons, Brett, Pelham (who had been a spy of the Earl 
of Northumberland on the Continent), and others more or less 
conspicuous in the worst period of the late reign. 

The narrow causeway of Fleet Street could have been 
effectually stopped by a single company of musketeers. In 
fact, the street contained a force considerably outnumbering 
the handful of Wyatt's men who carried rebellion right up to 
the city's gate. Yet no blow was struck in Mary's cause. 
Temple Bar was not defended, and the ruse with which Wyatt 
entered, his followers shouting " God save Queen Mary ! " 
can have deceived no one. A moment later 300 men of 
the Lord Treasurer's band (Stow says with his son as their 
captain) approached. The two forces passed on opposite 
sides, without a collision. 

A brush with the rebels in the street could have had only 
one result. Penned in by the houses, they would have been 
scattered and driven like chaff. The inaction of the authori- 
ties shows how grave was the apprehension as to the attitude 
of the populace. Though the City fathers, harangued by Mary 
at Guildhall "in a manly voice," had declared in her favour, 
the citizens did not conceal their discontent. Many of the 
rebels were Londoners, wearing the City uniform, and these 
were easily distinguished from the doubtful " loyalists " by the 
dirt upon their legs, after plodding through the rain and mud 
on their exhausting night march. 

By St. Bride's, where the road fell sharply and opened upon 
the Fleet River and bridge, " a great company of harnessed 



REBELLION 233 

men " had been drawn up on both sides of the way. The 
rebels passed through, none attempting to stop them. They 
carried their swords drawn, some crying, " A Wyatt ! a Wyatt ! 
God save Queen Mary ! " Others said, " The Queen hath 
granted our request, and will have no Spanish husband ! " 
Wyatt was at their head — a gallant figure. He was but twenty- 
three. He has been drawn for us in his habit : a shirt of mail, 
with sleeves very fair, and thereon a velvet cassock, and a 
yellow lace, with the windelesse of his dagger hanging thereon ; 
on his head he had a fair hat of velvet, with broad bone-work 
lace about it. 

Ludgate was open when the head of the band tramped across 
the bridge and began the ascent of the hill, " the men going 
not in any good order or array." Within the City's gate the 
Mayor and his brethren were in a state of alarm — " thinking 
all had not gone well with the Queen's side, they were much 
amazed, and stood as men half out of their lives, and many 
hollow hearts rejoiced in London at the same," quaintly 
remarks a contemporary recorder of events. 

But there was one among them who was no coward. Lord 
William Howard had never wavered in his allegiance to Mary. 
He had held London Bridge against the entry of the rebels 
when, fresh from their march from Rochester, having gained 
strength on the way, they were in much more formidable force, 
and again it was he who overawed the City and maintained it 
loyal to the Crown. A tailor of Watling Street standing 
among the throng recognised the young leader approaching 
at the head of his men. " I know that these be Wyatt 's 
antients," he exclaimed. Lord William Howard ordered the 
gate instantly to be closed. Murmurs and muttered curses 
were heard from the populace, but the command was obeyed. 
As is so often the case, one strong-willed man prevailed over a 
mob of passive onlookers, fearing to risk their own lives by 
proclaiming themselves for Wyatt. 

The closing of Ludgate effectually prevented the fraternisa- 
tion of the rebels with the excited populace within, and with 
great likelihood saved Mary's throne. 

Wyatt knocked at the gate demanding admission, saying 
that he was Sir Thomas Wyatt, whose request the Queen had 
granted. The parley was short. Lord William Howard's 
voice answered from within the gate — 



234 FLEET STREET 

" Avaunt thee, traitor, thou shalt not come in here." 

The young leader, whose energies were exhausted by the 
fatigues he had undergone, was nonplussed by this unexpected 
turn of events, just as success seemed within his grasp. M I 
have kept touch," he exclaimed pathetically ; but the enter- 
prise was now hopeless. The aid he had expected from the City 
had failed him. He threw his tired body down upon a bench 
outside the Belle Savage Yard, to rest and consider his position. 
The minutes passed while he remained impassive. Panic 
spread among his followers. Right and left the alleys and 
streets which honeycombed the district between the Old 
Bailey and the Fleet, and the dismantled precinct of the 
Dominicans' Priory, offered a prospect of refuge and escape. 
When at length Wyatt roused himself to action, of his band 
of 300 but twenty-four remained. Knyvet was with them, 
and one of the young Cobhams. 

The throng in Fleet Street had closed behind him. There 
was no course but to fall back from the City. With his little 
group of adherents, formed in fighting array, Wyatt turned 
and recrossed the bridge over the Fleet. His trust was that 
the train-bands would again make way for him, and it was not 
misplaced. Popular sympathy was with the beaten leader ; 
" he was never stopped until he came to Temple Bar." Lord 
Pembroke's Horse was coming up from Charing Cross. The 
two forces met face to face in the street just within Temple 
Bar, and with the cry of " Down with the daggle-tails ! " 
Pembroke's troop dashed at them. 

Largely outnumbered and matched on foot against horse- 
men, the rebels closed ranks to fight as men determined to sell 
their lives dearly but without hope either of success or escape 
in the mel6e which the close walls of the houses confined within 
narrow compass. 

Norroy King of Arms, attired in the glittering coat of 
chivalry, was with the Queen's men, l and entering into the 
thick of the tumult he approached Wyatt. 



1 Chronicle of Queen Jane, The Grey Friars' Chronicle, and Machyn's 
Diary, 1750-57 (all Camden Society publications), are the contemporary 
narratives that I have largely followed. Stow says that Clarenceaux 
King at Arms (Thomas Hawley at that time held the office) obtained 
the surrender of Wyatt. 






REBELLION 235 

" Sir," said he, " ye were best by my counsel to yield. You 
see this day has gone against you, and in resisting ye can get 
no good, but be the death of all these your soldiers, to your 
great peril of soul. Perchance ye may find the Queen merciful, 
and the rather if ye stint so great a bloodshed as is like here to 
be ! " 

" Well, if I shall needs yield, I will yield me to a gentleman," 
Wyatt replied. It is said that he " appeared somewhat 
astonished, though he saw his men bent on fighting it out to 
the death." 

Sir Maurice Berkeley was on horseback near by. To him 
Wyatt surrendered his sword, realising that further resistance 
was useless. There was grave peril that the fallen leader 
would be cut down in the press of horsemen, and Berkeley 
bade him leap up behind him. Others in the same way took 
up Knyvet and Cobham, Brett, and two more. The City 
was too strongly incensed against Mary for the passage of the 
prisoners through its streets to be considered a safe enterprise, 
and Berkeley and his companions galloped with them back 
by the Strand to Whitehall; and from Whitehall Stairs, the 
Queen herself looking on from a window in the palace, they 
were borne in a barge to the Tower. 

Mary's vengeance fell swiftly. A proclamation forbade all 
persons to shelter the insurgent fugitives under pain of death. 
Dragged from the hovels in which they had found concealment, 
crowds of poor wretches were huddled together in the prisons 
until gibbets were ready for their hanging. Machyn, whose 
" Diary," written in the years 1550-57, is the more valuable 
because of its colourless, unimpassioned entries, gives a long 
list of the gallows. In Fleet Street and Cheapside, North- 
umberland's heralds had proclaimed " that the Lady Mary 
was unlawfully begotten, and the Lady Jane Grey was Queen." 
As if to impress the lesson, each of these streets was chosen 
for the distinction of two pairs of gallows, while single gibbets 
were set up in all quarters of the town, and as far distant as 
Hyde Park Corner. 

Wyatt died on Tower Hill on the 11th of April, 1554, with 
his last words exonerating the Princess Elizabeth from all 
participation in the rising. The body was quartered where it 
lay on the scaffold, the head being afterwards fixed above a 
gibbet at St. James's Park, and a few days later stolen. The 



236 FLEET STREET 

Knyvets suffered at Sevenoaks. Brett was hanged in chains 
at Rochester. For weeks the dreadful Saturnalia of blood 
continued. 

It was February when the hangings commenced, and Machyn 
records that not before the 4th June were the instruments of 
death plucked down. Every gibbet bore its burden, and 
detached heads and limbs of the victims were stuck over 
Ludgate and other of the City gates, and on London Bridge. 
Standing up in horrid clusters, these grisly fragments of 
humanity tainted the very air. While her capital was being 
turned into a shambles, Mary prepared for her marriage with 
Philip of Spain at Winchester. 

Few pages may suffice for the Earl of Essex's revolt against 
Queen Elizabeth, which brought the handsome and powerful 
favourite to the block on Tower Green in the year 1601. It 
began and ended at the gate of Fleet Street, but Essex, more 
fortunate at the outset than Wyatt, penetrated into the heart 
of the City, and Fleet Street witnessed little more than a 
military parade. The favourite occupied a magnificent 
mansion just outside Temple Bar, standing amid large grounds 
overlooking the river, on the site where Walter de Stapledon 
had built the town house of the Bishops of Exeter. Elizabeth 
was near seventy, and a great epoch closed with her death 
two years later. Increasing age had sharpened the Queen's 
infirmities. Probably Essex's ill-judged and incautious 
remark, " that she was as crooked in her mind as she was in her 
body," was not misplaced. 

The hare-brained scheme was bound to end in disaster. 
Enraged by the failure of his expedition to Ireland, and 
smarting under the bitterness of mortified ambition, Essex 
staked his life on an enterprise for which no adequate prepara- 
tions had been made. He railed at the ingratitude of the 
Queen, and denounced Sir Walter Raleigh for having poisoned 
her mind against him, forgetting the insolence with which 
he himself had treated the Sovereign on many occasions — 
insolence which she was not likely either to forget or to 
forgive. His popularity with the Londoners was un- 
questioned. Blinded by vanity, he seems to have convinced 
himself that at his call they would rise against Elizabeth. 

The whole affair was hurried. A few nights before, his 



REBELLION 237 

friends had visited the Globe Theatre, and by payment of 
forty shillings had induced the actors there, evidently with 
reluctance, to perform Shakespeare's tragedy of King Richard 
II, in order that the people might be excited by the 
stage representation of the deposition of a king. x 

It had been determined that the attempt should be made 
on Sunday, the 8th February. Overnight 300 persons 
gathered at Essex House. Word had reached the Court 
that treason was hatching, and Essex was summoned to the 
Council. He refused to attend. In the morning the Lord 
Keeper, the Earl of Worcester, the Chief Justice Popham, and 
Sir William Knollys came to Essex House and demanded an 
interview. They were admitted, but the Earl refused to parley 
with them, and amid the excited threats of his adherents 
they were made prisoners. Leaving the captives in charge 
of Sir Gelly Merricke, who had placed the mansion in a state of 
defence, Essex immediately afterwards sallied out into Fleet 
Street to rouse the citizens. 

The story of his failure can be told in the words of an 
unknown writer who placed it on record the day after the rising. 
This curious and most interesting manuscript, written in a 
small Elizabethan hand, was recently discovered — or re- 
discovered — inserted behind the title-page in the British 
Museum copy of A Declaration of the Practises and Treasons 
attempted and committed by Robert, late Earle of Essex, drawn 
up by Sir Francis Bacon, and published in 1601. 2 It is on 
two leaves of paper. I have modernised the spelling and 
paragraphed the passages for convenience in reading, but 
otherwise it is unaltered — 

A rare accident which happened in London upon Sunday, being 
the 8th of February, 1600[-01]. 

The Earl of Essex, being the night before sent for by my Lord 
Treasurer to speak there with the Council, denied to come to them ; 
and then upon Sunday morning, about ten of the clock, there came to 
Essex House to speak with him my Lord Keeper, the Earl of Worcester, 
the Chief Justice Popham, and Sir William Knowles, to examine him, 
to whom he refused to answer and lightly esteemed them ; and having 
all the morning before been sending for all his friends, they came in 



1 Bacon's Declaration, etc., 1601. 

2 J. J. Munro, " Essex's Entry into London," Athenceum, December 
26th, 1908, wherein the manuscript is printed in its original form. 



238 FLEET STREET 

multitudes, and he imprisoned in his own house the lords, leaving the 
charge of the house and custody of them chiefly to Sir Gelly Merricke. 

And with the Earls of Southampton, Rutland, and Bedford, the 
Lords Sands, Mounteagle, and Cromwell, Sir Christopher Blunt, Sir 
Charles Danvers, two of Northumberland's and two of Rutland's 
brothers, with Catesby and Littleton, accompanied with other Knights 
and Gentlemen Captains and swaggering companions about 300, they 
issued out of Essex house without cloaks or armour, only with their 
rapiers and daggers not drawn, but their points upwards, and some 
with pistols and petronells ; and so about eleven of the clock before 
the sermons in every church were ended, came down Fleetestreete. 

My Lord Mayor, having about an hour before notice to guard the 
city, rose from the sermon at Paul's and caused the gates to be shut ; 
but when my lord of Essex came to Ludgate, that was opened him, and 
then they were four-hundred strong, and drew their swords, alleging 
that my Lord Cobham and Sir Walter Raleigh would have murdered 
him on the water the night before, and that he came to the city for aid, 
the good of her majesty, and maintenance of religion and so came 
triumphantly down Cheapeside with great plaudits, the boys of the city 
giving shouts with joy, and so went towards Sheriff Smith's house 
near the exchange ; but before he came thither my Lord Burleigh fol- 
lowed him with heralds and proclaimed him in Cheapeside traitor, 
and also all his followers that did not presently depart his company, 
and pursuing him near with the Lord Mayor assisting, whom Essex 
with his forces desperately assaulted and caused them to retire, killing 
Lord Burleigh's horse with a shot, and so coming to Sheriff Smith's, 
still expecting the City should rise with him, and he told the Sheriff 
that he was come to him for aid to defend the Queen, Religion, and his 
Life with the state of the city. 

The Sheriff went himself to the Lord Mayor and left Essex with the 
rest in his house, where they had some victuals and took some halberts, 
and not liking his answer, he came forth and walked Cheapeside again, 
stayed a good space at Paul's gate in the end of Cheape, then went to 
Paul's church yard and there stayed half an hour ; this while the citi- 
zens raising arms, the gates made strong, the streets chained, there 
was small violence offered any of them, save the taking of some of the 
stragglers and committing them. Many fell from him upon the 
proclamations 1 

Notwithstanding the Mayor and all were up in arms, he walked to 
and fro till about three of the clock in the afternoon, and seeing no 
good success in his treacherous enterprise was desirous to go homeward 
to Essex House again. 

But essaying to return through Ludgate again (being not then one 
hundred strong) he was repulsed, one Tracy his page slain, Sir Christo- 
pher Blunt wounded (which was the most resolute man), Essex himself 
shot through the hat, and some more hurt ; then being all at their wits' 
end they came to Watlingstreete and up Fridaystreete into Cheapeside, 
where the Lord Mayor went to have encountered with them ; but before 

1 A line cut off at the top of the leaf. 



REBELLION 239 

they could meet Essex went into Bow-church-yard, and so through 
Bowlane, went to the waterside, where as many as could took boats, 
and the rest were taken. 

Those that took boats landed at Essex House, thinking (as it seemed) 
to have found the Lords and Sir William Knowles there as Essex left 
them, and by them to have ransomed himself ; but Sir Ferdinando 
Gorge, one of his followers, came half an hour before with a false message 
(thereby to save himself) to Sir Gelly Merricke that he must deliver 
the Lords and go for the Earl to her majesty upon a message, whereby 
they were gone before Essex came home, else had they not been so well 
discharged. 

There he thought to end his life, and with him Southampton, Rutland, 
Mounteagle, and Sands, of the nobility ; and divers of good sort playing 
with muskets from over the gates into the streets, the house was then 
beset both by land and water ; and the gallants and Marshalmen of 
the city with the guard came down the Strand in arms, and played with 
shot upon the windows over the gates. This while my Lord Admiral 
General for it was night, and the Court (Whitehall) was guarded with 
2,000 London soldiers ; about nine of the clock at night two great pieces 
of ordnance came from the Tower and were placed against Essex gates, 
being before broken down. Captain Owen Salisbury was before slain 
with a shot in Essex House. 

These pieces being placed, Essex desired to parley with my Lord 
Admiral, then in the garden and he upon the Leads, at which parley 
the Admiral willed that the Ladies might be sent forth, not willing to 
do them any hurt ; but presently they all yielded, and the three Earls 
were committed to the Tower, and each had one of the Queen's men 
to attend them. Mr. Richard Warberton attended Essex, and the 
rest of his followers were committed to other prisons. 

The Londoners showed themselves either too favourable or too 
timorous, every one guarding his own house. Her majesty, whom 
God long preserve, and the State is now quiet, though lately disturbed. 
Finis, February 9, 1600[-01]. 

Follows a list of such as were taken and one who escaped, 
sixty-nine names in all. Elizabeth, so little agitated that 
she thought no more of a false alarm that the City had revolted 
with Essex than " of a fray in Fleet Street," l promptly pub- 
lished a proclamation thanking the citizens and all her subjects 
for the loyalty they had displayed. Ludgate.was held against 
Essex on his attempt to return by that route by Sir John 
Gilbert, with a company of pikemen. Gilbert refused to 
surrender the gate except to the Sheriff himself as the Queen's 
representative. The only fighting of moment took place 
there. 

1 Cecil to Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, State Papers (Domestic), 
1604, Feb. 10. 



240 FLEET STREET 

The City Sheriff to whose house in Fenchurch Street Essex 
first made his way, was one Smith, Alderman of Farringdon 
Without — the Fleet Street ward. How far he was com- 
promised with the rebel Earl remains in doubt, but the City 
held him under deep suspicion. Within a week he was deprived 
of his sheriffwick and of his aldermanry, and debarred from 
ever becoming alderman of any other ward, for cause suffi- 
ciently known to the Court of Aldermen. * He was placed 
under a severe examination, but escaped with his life. 

Essex perished seventeen days after his ill-judged attempt, 
the expected clemency of the Queen being denied him. The 
favourite's popularity revived with his death, and Derrick, 
the headsman, on leaving the Tower was roughly handled 
and nearly killed by the mob. 

Little incident, I fear, is provided for this record by the 
spacious days of great Elizabeth, and there remains only to 
tell the intimate life of the street, and that is dealt with in 
some detail in the next chapter. It is not easy to escape 
the grand manner while Elizabeth ruled, and become merely 
parochial. Listen to the worshipful the Mayor — 

By the Mayor 

On the Queen's Majesty's behalf we straightly charge and command 
you : 

That ye forthwith take order with the constables and beadle of your 
said ward, that they foresee that all and every the pudding wives and 
tripe wives within your said ward do make clean wash and cleanse all 
and every the paunches, guts, entrails, and other things wherewith they 
make their said puddings, and tripes, in the River of Thames be brought 
and had home to any of their houses. And that they and every one 
of them shall cause the waters wherein the same shall be washed and 
boiled after the same is had home forthwith to be carried and conveyed 
out of their houses into the River of Thames in tubs and other vessels, 
and not to be poured out into the streets and kennels of this city to 
the annoyance of the people upon pain of imprisonment of the offender 
thereof at the discretion of the Lord Mayor. And to be discharged of 
any more or further occupying of such things within the same city fail 
ye not hereof, as you and they will answer to the contrary at your peril. 

Given at the Guildhall of London the thirteenth of September, 
1569. 

Blackwell. 



Dr. R. Sharpe, London arid the Kingdom, i, 563. 



REBELLION 241 

A simple injunction to the City dames who prepared and 
vended puddings and tripe ; but one need add only a fanfare 
on the silver trumpets and a few bars of the National Anthem 
to imagine a striking ceremonial at the reading of the 
proclamation at Temple Bar. 



16— (2246) 



CHAPTER XII 

FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 

Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, 
you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, 
but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not 
in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human 
habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity 
of London consists. — Samuel Johnson. 

The epoch which opens with Elizabeth brings gladness to the 
local historian. For in her first year the parish registers of 
St. Dunstan's begin. Those of St. Bride's date from 1587. 
Ralph Agas drew Elizabethan London in a map which is a 
priceless possession of the City Corporation, and may be 
seen at the Guildhall. With him the map-makers come to 
our aid. The Domestic State Papers, now calendared from 
this reign, contain many odd scraps of topographical informa- 
tion. Stow, too, undertook his perambulation of London. 
All these sources enable the life and aspect of the western 
suburb to be restored in more detail than has hitherto been 
possible. 

If Henry the Eighth figures in Fleet Street chiefly as a 
destroyer, having laid in ruins the Carmelite settlement at 
Whitefriars, and the more splendid house of the Black Friars 
across the Fleet, the settled peace at home ensured by his 
imperious daughter gave encouragement and stimulus to the 
closer building of the suburb. That certainly was not her 
desire. Sheer pressure of population made the expansion of 
the city inevitable, and as inevitably it expanded into the 
liberties. I have now to show the street altered largely in 
appearance, but yet more largely in character. 

The ecclesiastics were driven out — started on their way by 
Henry the Eighth, expedited by Elizabeth. The land-hungry 
London citizens came by their own ; but the account cannot 
be squared unless we also take note of the loss ; and as nowhere 
in the suburb did the people settle more thickly than about 
Fleet Street, nowhere was the loss more apparent. The suburb 
lost its open spaces : the cloister greens and wooded enclosures 
of friars and Hospitallers : the well-stored orchards and flower- 
ing gardens with which wealthy churchmen had encompassed 

242 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 243 

their inns. (I cannot reject Shakespeare's briar roses in the 
Temple as mere poetic fancy.) It lost its salubriousness, 
and took some new elements in no way advantageous to city 
life. When a great epoch ended with Elizabeth's death, the 
population in the liberties was already dense like that within 
the city walls ; but the old walled city was still both the 
chief residential quarter for the better class and the centre 
of commerce, while this outer town was being built around it. 

The larger dwellings of Fleet Street remained, often let 
out for lodgings and decaying under neglect. Stow, walking 
through London, suggests the change. Oldbourne Hall, in 
Shoe Lane, an " olde house," parts of which, displaying 
some faded grandeur, survived last century, was in 1598 
" now letten out into divers tenements." The Bishop of 
Bangor's town hostel near by early shared a like fate. So, 
too, with the Hanging Sword in Fleet Street ; and a large 
place known as St. Dunstan's Hall, in Fetter Lane, of which 
Tottel, the printer, was a most neglectful landlord, his lodging- 
house occasioning frequent complaints by neighbours. In 
the Whitefriars, says Stow, " be now many fayre houses 
builded " — soon to become, if not so already, the lurking place 
of Alsatian refugees. Where standing buildings were given a 
longer lease of life — I shall trace a number of them — their 
grounds were cut up, and all about them were erected rookeries 
which became amongst the most squalid parts of the town. 
The district was pierced anew by unpaved courts and filthy 
alleys, twisting and turning in an endless maze, the hotbed 
and abiding place of every plague that afterwards visited 
London — the courts and alleys which, cleansed and lighted, 
to-day give character to Fleet Street behind its screen of shops. 

The growth of the city beyond the walls occasioned grave 
apprehensions. These are reflected in orders and statutes 
of Elizabeth by which every means was taken to prevent the 
capital obtaining such proportions as would make it, as feared 
by the rulers of those days, a menace to the Crown. James 
the First, in his shorter reign, issued four successive proclama- 
tions forbidding new building in the suburbs, and their number 
shows their futility. Cromwell attempted the same thing in 
1656 and failed. Knowing London as it is to-day, we laugh 
at the political alarm. But the apprehensions to which such 
dense overcrowding gave rise were not unjustified. Each 



244 FLEET STREET 

one of the later plagues which ravaged London started in the 
liberties or out-parishes— in 1592, in 1603, in 1625, in 1636, 
in 1665. " Death," says Dekker in The Wonderfull Yeare 
(1603), " had pitcht his tents in the sinfully polluted suburbs 
. . . the skirts of London were pitifully pared off little by 
little." Then the invading plague " entered within the walls 
and marched through Cheapside." 

Elizabeth's Poor Law served the same end as the proclama- 
tions. By throwing the burden of supporting impoverished 
persons upon the parish, it tended to keep down population 
by making the town parishes chary of admitting those who 
might become a charge upon them. 

Fears of this kind crop up abundantly in the parish records. 
The wardmote inquests, which assembled on the Feast of St. 
Thomas each year (21st December), busied themselves with 
presentments to the Mayor and Court of Aldermen against 
" inmates " and foreigners (non-freemen) who might become 
chargeable, and against the partitioning of houses into lodgings, 
whereby more poor people were brought into their midst. 
That stern care for public morals which is so marked a feature 
of London administration under Elizabeth and James the First 
has often the same practical end in view, the keeping down 
of the cost. An extract from the St. Dunstan's registers of 
1598 is typical of many there found — 

Item, We present Ry chard Cathow dwellinge in Fletestrete for that 
he doth [? harbour] one Gabriell Redman a Foreinor at the Inne called 
the Red Lyon in Flete strete contrarie to his othe and the Freedom of 
this citie. And we p'sent him for that he being a Constable and having 
a warrant from Sir John Hawke for the app e hending of M e Corken's 
man in Chancerwry lane charged with adulterye and the offender being 
in his custodie he let him goo, and the harlott is great with childe, 
likely to be charged uppon the parishe. 

And near at hand there is this entry — 

Item, we present Margaret Lylly, who came to dwell in Ram Alley 
within three months last past and lodgeth one Symon Dominico, a 
frenchman borne and his wife in her house, who .... are like to be 
a charge to the p'ishe and the cittie. 

Mediaeval Fleet Street I have traced through nearly four 
centuries, with such detail as is available. The legal Inns and 
the church of the Knights Templars remain. The rest has 
gone ; but sufficient has been recalled, I may hope, to leave 
on the reader's mind an impression of an old street, thronged 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 245 

with the city's busy life, possessing some noteworthy buildings 
of its own, and bordered along the Thames-side by the larger 
establishments of the religious Orders. The courts about Fleet 
Street are of an entirely different character, and their later 
origin is not far to seek. They tell, plainly as though penned 
on a map, of the existence of gardens and forecourts that have 
disappeared. 

" The young lions of Peterborough Court," to use Matthew 
Arnold's phrase, no longer roar, for the court has been swept 
away within memory. Peterborough Court was a typical 
example. The land about it remained in possession of the 
See of Peterborough until 1863. In that year the reversion 
was sold to the proprietors of the Daily Telegraph, whose 
offices, extending back to Wine Office Court (at the rear for- 
merly King's Head Court), now occupy the site. This land 
belonged to the Abbot of Peterborough before the Reforma- 
tion. King Henry the Eighth reconstituted the old monastery 
of Peterborough as a cathedral in 1541, granting to it various 
manors and lands and other properties which the monastery 
had enjoyed, and among them are to be found messuages, 
etc., in the parish of St. Bride, in the suburb of London, which 
belonged to the same monastery. * 

Evidence cannot be found that the abbot himself ever held 
his court in Fleet Street, though I have had the help, most 
kindly given, of Mr. A. P. Moore, Assistant Diocesan Regis- 
trary of Peterborough, who has looked into the registry docu- 
ments. It is probable. Stow says nothing of abbot or bishop. 
The abbot's house had a large garden, cut off from Shoe Lane 
only by the tenements there belonging to the abbeys of Vale 
Royal (Cheshire), Ankerwyke, and Garradon. 2 In building 
for the Daily Telegraph Peterborough Court was covered over, 
all save a fragment, which is still a passage to the editorial 
and printing departments. The court ran up Fleet Street 
(1) with a sharp turn at right angles and a return way to Fleet 
Street, and (2) forward and an opposite right-angled turn. 

I have fancied that here is the forecourt plan of the abbot's 
hostel, the line then winding about the mansion and round at 
the rear. After the hostel was demolished, houses sprang up 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 16, 1226 (8). 

2 ibid., vol. 20 (pt. 1), 282 (19). 



246 FLEET STREET 

both on the site and over the pleasure grounds, but the approach 
remained as Peterborough Court until our own time. That 
this, at any rate, was the way in which most of the courts came 
into being, Fleet Street to-day affords substantial evidence. 
I am going to show that with few exceptions they are Eliza- 
bethan, others being early Stuart, but the names are older, 
having been taken from nouses that for the most part were 
standing in the suburb before the Reformation. 

Keeping parallel with Fetter Lane is a narrow passage called 
Fleur-de-Lis Court. It now turns out into Fetter Lane, some 
hundred yards away, but originally came down into Fleet 
Street itself, with an entrance under Peele's Coffee-house. 1 
A house with the sign of the Flower-de-Luce stood at this 
corner of Fetter Lane and Fleet Street in the reign of Elizabeth ; 
it had belonged to the convent of St. Mary Overy, South wark, 
and was seized by Henry the Eighth at the suppression of the 
religious houses. 2 Boar's Head Alley, near Water Lane (a 
private passage still bears the name) was immediately conti- 
guous to " le borys heade," an inn that was granted to the 
Carmelite friars in 1443, and later passed through Henry's 
hands to John Nash, a page of the King's chamber. The 
court obviously took its name from the inn, and marks the 
site of its yard. Red Lion Court was the way to the " Redd 
Lyon," a Fleet Street inn standing here in 1571. 3 

Hanging Sword Alley is to-day a narrow passage between 
printing premises on the south side of Fleet Street. The 
curious title suggests difficulty, but was taken from the sign 
of a house already referred to, which is mentioned by Stow : 
" Then is water lane running downe by the west side of a house 
called the Hanging sword to the Thames." 4 Both house and 
alley have been traced back to the year 1564, when they 
formed part of the Bishop of Salisbury's manor, the passage 
being also known at that time as " Ouldwood Aley." 6 I 
suspect the house was much earlier, and was that occupied by 
William Newland, of St. Bride's, in 1425, when in his will he 

1 So shown in Tallis's Panorama of Fleet Street, about 1837. 

2 Inq. Post Mortem, City of London (British Record Society), ii, 89. 

3 Devise of lease by Robert Powell to Christopher Donne, 7th May, 
1573, now in possession of Mr. Aleck Abrahams. 

4 Stow's Survey. Ed. Kingsford, ii, 45. 
6 See Appendix. 






FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 247 

left for the cost and labour of a pilgrim " to goe fro the Swerd 
in Fletestrete vn-to Caunterbury barefot, xs." * 

The most notorious of these Fleet Street courts for evil 
associations was Ram Alley (now Hare Place), of which there 
is much to be said in its Alsatian days. The name was derived 
from a house that stood there in 1540, with the sign of " The 
Star and the Ram," 2 and was part of the possessions of the 
Knights Hospitallers — another of Henry the Eighth's many 
confiscations. It was taken from the monarch in fee for 
£54 — a large sum — by one Robert Harrys, or Harris, as we 
should say, who had a brewery there, and was prosperous 
enough to pick up a good many other religious properties. 
The place had the frontage on Fleet Street, which Harrys 
the same year let to another, leaving an entry from the 
highway to his brewery. This entry was the origin of Ram 
Alley. 3 

Poppin's Court, leading into St. Bride Street, is one of the 
earliest courts in Fleet Street, having been " Popyngay Aley " 
when Henry the Eighth seized the messuage in the parish of 
St. Bride bearing the sign of the Poppinjay, which had belonged 
to the monks of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. 4 Salisbury 
Court leads to where the Bishop of Sarum's town house stood. 
It has already been mentioned as " Salysbury Aley," in 1496. 
Without exception, the very few courts known before the 
Reformation (as apart from nouses that afterwards gave their 
names to courts) are those nearest Fleet Ditch — the water- 
course had earned for itself that opprobrious name in Eliza- 
beth's reign. West of the Conduit was mostly open meadow 
behind an irregular row of houses. 

John Bale, Bishop of Ossory, in 1549 had a house in Fleet 
Street, at the sign of The Crown next Whitefriars' Gate, where 

1 Furnival, Fifty Earliest English Wills, p. 65. 

2 See page 207 ante. The Star was a favourite subsidiary feature 
of a house sign, as The Hand and Star, and The Ship and Star, both 
to have been found in Fleet Street. 

3 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 19 (pt. 1), No. 278 (75) ; (pt. 2), 
No. 690 (67). 

* ibid., vol. 19, No. 1035 (15). The Poppinjay passed into possession 
of Thomas White, citizen and Alderman of London, who on his death 
on Feb. 11, 1566, willed it to his wife Joan. (Inq. p.m. British Record 
Society.) 



248 FLEET STREET 

a printed book, Leland's Laboryouse Journey, was to be sold 
by him. * Near by is Crown Court. 

The Three Kings, the Hind, the Falcon, and the Crane were 
popular house signs still preserved in the names of other courts. 
The Falcon was a messuage in Fleet Street owned by the 
Knights Hospitallers before the Reformation. 2 It passed 
into the lay hands of John Fisher, who by will in 1547 left the 
Falcon and six houses adjoining to the Cordwainers' Company 
in trust (the benefit is still enjoyed) to distribute twelve 
pence to one hundred poor of St. Dunstan's parish, 6s. 8d. to 
strangers, and for preaching a sermon. 3 Bell Yard, by the Law 
Courts, runs over the site of a house and grounds known as The 
Bell, also belonging to the Knights Hospitallers. Ficket's 
Croft, the old jousting ground of the Templars, upon part 
of which the Law Courts stand, another part being New Square, 
Lincoln's Inn, was still an open field when Henry the Eighth 
seized the Bell, the tenant of which had the pasturage. * The 
historic Mitre Tavern and Mitre Court stood together, the yard 
having an exit into the court. I have not traced the tavern 
earlier than the year 1603, but the ecclesiastical title makes it 
likely that the sign overlooked the street before Elizabeth. 

Bolt Court is derived from the Bolt-in-tun, opposite. 

Johnson's Court preserves the name of an Elizabethan 
civic worthy — Thomas Johnson, citizen and merchant taylor, 
and one of the City Corporation from 1598 till his death in 1629. 

Cheshire Court (by the " Cheese ") so in recent years 
misnamed, is historically Two Falcon Court. 

Cock and Key Alley, next Whitefriars, has disappeared, with 
many other courts thereabouts. The curious old name (did 
it signify a beer-tap ?) was from the sign of an early Fleet 
Street tavern flourishing in 1536. 6 Hen and Chicken Court, 
next St. Dunstan's Church, survives ; that was from another 
house sign to be found in the parish registers. I do not profess 
to interpret it, but Mr. J. Landfear Lucas has observed that 

1 E. Gordon Duff, Century of English Book Trade (Bibliographical 
Society), p. 7. 

2 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 19 (pt. 1), 1035 (2). 

3 A. Tisley, Account of St. Dunstan's Charities (printed by order 
of the Vestry, 1890), p. 15. 

* Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 18 (pt. 1), 802 (19). 
s See page 269, post. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 249 

this sign, a favourite one, had a trade reference, being shown 
by some furnishing drapers to denote and suggest a proper 
parental provision in setting up new homes. Three Legged 
Alley, Fetter Lane, has become Trinity Church Passage and 
Pemberton Row. This, too, was from the incomprehensible 
sign of a house. Feather Bed Court has proved elusive. 

Of the later passages, Apollo Court (built over), near St. 
Dunstan's Church, derived its title from Ben Jonson's Apollo 
Chamber at the Devil Tavern in James the First's reign. 
Racquet Court, a cul-de-sac, suggests the time of King Charles, 
when the pastime became so popular. Wine Office Court 
is said to owe its name to the office for the receipt of customs 
on wines which stood in the court in Pepys's day. The wine 
licence office was in Fleet Street in 1655. 1 

Even at the risk of weariness I have thought it advisable to 
trace in this detail the transformation from suburb to city. 
A page more, and I have done. The taverns are of great 
assistance in restoring the early topography of the street. 
A well remembered house was the old Cock. Bons-vivants will 
recall where it stood less than thirty years ago, entirely screened 
behind the shops of Fleet Street near the Chancery Lane corner, 
and was entered by a long wooden passage. It was certainly 
as old as Elizabeth. 2 The Rainbow to-day, on the opposite 
side, stands behind the houses, with a similar entrance. This, 
too, was in the street before the Commonwealth. 8 

The Old Cheshire Cheese (there was another Cheshire Cheese 
in Crutched Friars) has premises in front of it, and is ap- 
proached by narrow courts on either side. It is known to have 
been rebuilt in 1667, after the Great Fire of London, on the 
site of a former inn, and there are arches in the vaults which 
appear to be long anterior to the Fire. The Old Bell is similarly 



1 State Papers (Domestic) 1655, Nov. 28. 

2 John Garlek writes to Mr. Latimer " at the sign of the Cock, near 
St. Dunstan's Church." (State Papers, Domestic, 1600, April 13th.) 

3 The Committee of both Houses of Parliament, Cromwell being a 
member, on the 8th February, 1648, held Arthur Trevor to bail in £2,000 
to Mr. Speaker Lenthall to surrender " within 24 hours of warning to 
be left at the Rainbow in Fleet Street." (State Papers, Domestic.) 
The title page of Trussel's History of England, 1636, shows that the 
book was " to be sold in Fleet Street at the sign of the Rainbowe neare 
Inner Temple gate." 



250 FLEET STREET 

placed. The Sugar Loaf and Green Lattice tavern stood 
directly behind Child's Bank at Temple Bar, until incorporated 
last century in the bank extensions. The Boar's Head and 
the Bolt-in-Tun were both built in Whitefriars, and had 
entrance passages from Fleet Street. 

Now this kind of double building tells its own story, and 
incidentally it helps materially when attempting to picture the 
mediaeval street. The change to a closely built town area was 
long delayed. The neighbourhood, except about Fleet Ditch, 
was still largely open in the middle years of Elizabeth's reign, 
and is so represented in Ralph Agas' map, though I have 
found in the parish registers of contemporary date mention 
of courts which he does not figure. Fetter Lane was still " a 
way leading to gardens." * Agas' drawing is partly conven- 
tional ; for with so many old inns, each one of importance 
having its yard, and the clergy houses with their forecourts, 
there is ample evidence that Fleet Street never presented a 
straight-built line until Elizabeth's later years, when under 
pressure of population the spaces were built over. An example 
of this back building, long surviving, was to be found in the 
fine pair of timber built houses, with overhanging fronts and 
gable roofs and galleries, that escaped the Great Fire of London, 
and within memory were so picturesque a feature of Fleet 
Street near Fetter Lane corner. 

When only a narrow footway was left to give entrance to a 
house at the back, naturally it would take the name of that 
house, and the same if the original house fronted the street, 
and the entrance admitted to its overbuilt grounds at the rear. 
The large number (substantially all) of names of courts taken 
from house signs is thus accounted for. 

I want by the foregoing pages to bring to the mind of the 
pedestrian who to-day wanders about the courts and alleys 



1 In 1576, out of eleven pavements in " Fewter Lane " presented 
as defective by the wardmote inquest of St. Dunstan's, five were 
before gardens and garden walls, one being that of " my Lord Keeper," 
and a sixth before the open ground of Clifford's Inn. — William Ridgeley, 
of Fleet Street, died there in 1569 ; he possessed one garden in Fetter 
Lane then divided into divers gardens, two other gardens in Fetter 
Lane, and seven tenements or cottages with seven gardens thereto 
adjoining, also in Fetter Lane. (Inq. p.m., City of London, British 
Record Society, ii, 133-4.) 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 251 

north and south of Fleet Street the fact that he is threading 
what is really an interesting survival of Elizabethan London. 
Little of it is later than her reign, and none later than Stuart. 
Gough Square has been made Georgian only by its last builders. 
Few except hurrying printers' boys and occasional pilgrims to 
Samuel Johnson's shrines ever trouble to turn out of Fleet 
Street into this unexplored maze of courts. They have been 
likened very happily to a cricket bat with the handle turned 
towards the highway. The whole district is unique, for London 
elsewhere has nothing to compare. It is a necessary result, 
first of the settlement of the clergy in the suburb, and after- 
wards of the growth of the town out beyond the walls into the 
liberty, stamping this ancient character upon its face. 

In the absence of a census, there is another measure that 
indicates the change to a closely built town parish, namely, 
the graveyards. Both the Fleet Street parishes soon found 
necessity to increase their space for the disposal of the dead. 
St. Dunstan's, in the years immediately before 1597, acquired 
a considerable area of burial-ground in Fetter Lane, * of which 
only a fragment survives, a new street, Bream's Buildings, 
having been cut through it in 1877. The day training college 
at Gray stoke Place also has part of the site. St. Bride's, 
under pressure of enlarged population, began to bury south 
of the old church, by the wall of Dorset House. The Earl of 
Dorset, not able to endure that an " unhandsome corpse should 
come between the wind and his nobility," gave to the parish 
in 1610 a new burial ground at the west side of the present 
Farringdon Street ; and later burials also took place on Bride- 
well property, on a plot of land in Dorset Street still lying 
vacant. 

The poverty which the building of so many tenement 
houses brought in its train was for the most part packed away 
in the side alleys, 2 and through the suburb the highway of 

1 Tisley, Account of St. Dunstan's Charities, p. 29. 

2 Close building is indicated by a census of men, women, and children 
within the City and its Liberties taken in June, 1631, by Sir Robert 
Ducie, Lord Mayor, at the order of the Privy Council, when appre- 
hensive at the time of approaching scarcity. The ward of Farringdon 
Without returned 20,046 persons, more than one-half of the entire City 
population outside the walls. London within the walls numbered 
71,029 souls. {Notes and Queries, 11th Ser. i, 426.) 



252 FLEET STREET 

Fleet Street ran. This was a street doing some credit to the 
City, as befitted the chief landway to Westminster : the shops 
kept by mercers and saddlers and grocers, and other traders 
of substance, and these and almost innumerable taverns 
swung their signs well into the public view, making a brave 
show. One Machyn, a tailor of vestments — I have failed to 
identify him with the Machyn whose diary has been often 
quoted ; but the tailors were a bookish lot, as witness John 
Stow — kept shop in Fleet Street, between the two gates of the 
Temple. As was the case in every closely-built town till 
recent times, rich and poor lived cheek by jowl ; the West- 
end is a later institution, and not for London's good. The 
judges and serjeants-at-law resided at their chambers in 
Serjeants' Inn. 

They were sharply admonished by Elizabeth's Council in 
1578 to take order for the repressing of frays in the City, 
" even in the face of your own lodgings in Fleet Street " ; x in 
1602 the gardener of Inner Temple was directed to lop the 
trees in King's Bench Walk, which interfered with the judges' 
view of the Thames. 2 The Inn early in Henry the Eighth's 
reign had been occupied by an armourer ; and the Dean and 
Chapter of York, whose property it was, in the same reign 
leased the Inn to Sir Lewes Pollard, Justice of the Common 
Pleas, and certain serjeants-at-law, at the modest rental of 
53s., payable half-yearly. At their very wall was Ram Alley 
of evil association, perhaps the most pestilent court in 
London. 

The Earls of Dorset lived in magnificence in Dorset House, 
Fleet Street, and the Earls of Kent had their town mansion in 
Whitefriars, where afterwards Selden and the widowed 
Countess of Kent are said to have lived together (a scandal on 
the learned). Whitefriars, bear in mind, was not all Alsatia. 
The barristers resided in their inns, more of them than there 
were buildings properly to accommodate ; it is learnt from 
Gray's Inn records that Sir Thomas Nevile was willing to 
accept Mr. Attorney-General (Sir Christopher Hales) to be his 
" bedfellow." The bedfellow shared chambers, but not 
necessarily the same quilt. In short, the suburb of Elizabeth 

1 State Papers (Domestic) Addenda, 1578, April. 

2 Cal. of Inner Temple Records, i, 452. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 253 

and the Stuarts represented in little all the activities of that 
busy and adventurous age. 

The water front, which to-day does not count, was of sub- 
stantial importance while the Thames was still the main 
artery of communication for the city lying along its bank. 
There is a picturesque incident I should have been sorry to 
miss. Rumour had scattered abroad with a thousand tongues, 
Elizabeth not unwilling, the report that her Grace was to 
marry the Duke of Alencon. 

Letters received in Paris of the 12th March, 1580, advised 
that four days before date a gentleman who had been sent by 
His Highness had arrived in the English capital, and that the 
Queen, who was on the river for her pleasure in London, and 
attended by her ladies and lords, had disembarked at the 
house in Fleet Street of Mauvissi&re, the French Ambassador, 
where she remained some time. This circumstance, wrote 
Lorenzo Prinli, the Venetian representative in Paris, had given 
great grounds for the discussion of the marriage ; for it would 
appear, said he, that while the Queen was still intent upon the 
project, she could not be sufficiently secure of the will of 
Monsieur. 1 The passage is taken from a letter. It recalls 
how the clear-flowing Thames was then, and long afterwards, 
a resort for pleasure and State. 

In the birth of the English theatre, Fleet Street shared. Its 
own stage in the Whitefriars is dealt with later ; but this was 
of minor importance, overshadowed entirely by Burbadge 
and Shakespeare's theatre at Blackfriars. So great was the 
crush of playgoers to the Blackfriars Theatre of an afternoon 
that the constables, churchwardens, and principal inhabitants 
of the precinct told the Star Chamber a piteous tale. They 
petitioned (this was in 1618) — 

That there was daily such a resort of people and such a multitude of 
coaches (many of them hackney coaches bringing people of all sorts) 
that at times the streets could not contain them, they clogged up Lud- 
gate Hill also, so that they endangered one another, broke down stalls, 
threw down goods, and the inhabitants were unable to get to their 
houses, or bring in their provisions, the tradesmen to utter their wares, 
or passengers to get to the common water stairs without danger of 
life and limb ; quarrels and effusion of blood had followed, and other 
dangers might be occasioned by the broils, plots, and practices of such 

1 Venetian State Papers, vii, 635. 



254 FLEET STREET 

an unruly multitude. These inconveniences happening almost daily 
in the winter time (not excepting Lent) from one or two o'clock till 
five at night (the usual time for christenings, burials, and afternoon 
service), the inhabitants were unable to get to the church. If the 
inhabitants, by turnpikes, chains, posts, or otherwise, kept the coaches 
outside their gates, great inconvenience would ensue to Ludgate and 
the streets thereabout. * 

The Star Chamber held it reasonable that those who fre- 
quented playhouses should go thither by water or on foot 
instead of by coach, and posted on Fleet Conduit a notice 
threatening committal to Ludgate and Newgate of all coach- 
men who obstructed a free passage. At Fleet bank, where now 
is Blackfriars Bridge, was one of the busiest Thames ferries, 
crossing to Paris Garden and the footway to the Southwark 
theatres. 

Elizabeth, a young Queen of eight-and-twenty, was enter- 
tained by the students of the Temple. Later, when her 
Majesty was visiting Sir Thomas Gresham, a masque was 
presented at the City's gate. Fleet Street decked itself in 
festal array, and by the King's Head a pageant was staged. 
From the tavern front cords were suspended across the street. 
On the Queen's approach cherubs fluttered down, presenting 
for her acceptance a crown of gold and laurels, with com- 
plimentary and loyal messages. One bore the following 
quatrain — 

Virtue shall witness of her worthiness, 

And fame shall register her princely deeds ; 

The world shall still pray for her happiness, 
From whom our peace and quietude proceeds. 

It seems from an entry in the Lincoln's Inn " Black Books " 
to have been a custom in the fifteenth century and after for 
the members of the legal Inns to stand in line in Fleet Street 
behind rails on occasions of a Royal procession. They were so 
grouped upon one side when, in 1588, Queen Elizabeth went 
through Temple Bar along Fleet Street, the City Companies 
on the other. Francis Bacon was among the lawyers. " Do 
but observe the courtiers," said he to a learned brother ; " if 
they bow first to the citizens, they are in debt ; if first to us, 
they are in law." 2 

1 Index to Remembrancia (Guildhall), pp. 355-7. 
? Spedding, Baconia, vii, 175. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 255 

In the parish records of Elizabeth, Fleet Street is often 
referred to as " the highs trete " or " the highway," without 
other identification. To our enlarged vision it would have 
appeared close, dark, and stuffy ; a cobbled way with over- 
hanging houses on either side, until the Great Fire of London 
swept the street in flame almost from end to end. There were 
no footways, the whole width from house to house being 
thrown into the street. Even the stone posts to protect 
pedestrians came later. Footways proper only began in the 
City when King James the First, about 1614, gave permission 
to the citizens who so desired to lay down broad freestones 
before their houses. The kennels retained their primitive 
un cleanliness. 

But it would be an entire misconception to imagine the 
street as Wych Street and Holywell Street are remembered 
before the Strand clearance, though the houses there no doubt 
gave the character of the architecture. Mr. Diprose, the 
historian of St. Clement Danes, was told by one of the Wych 
Street freeholders that he held the leases of his house back to 
Queen Mary. Old St. Dunstan's Church stood out in the road- 
way, a bad obstruction, but further east Fleet Street widened 
to the Conduit, where it contracted again into a narrow bottle- 
neck extending to where Fleet Bridge marked the end, and 
linked it with Ludgate Hill. The stone bridge then standing 
had been built at the charges of John Wels, mayor, in 1431, 
" fair coped, on either side with iron pikes, on the which 
towards the south lie also certain lanthornes of stone, for lights 
to be placed in the Winter evenings, for commodity of 
travellers." Stow, who thus describes the structure, also 
tells that Wels — perhaps a little prematurely — engraved 
on the stone coping the figure of himself embraced by angels. 
Years hastening by, the span of the bridge was lessened as the 
watercourse narrowed. 

The Fleet, unchanged and unchangeable in its filth, one can 
hardly think of as a processional river, but while the Star 
Chamber lasted its prisoners were conducted by water from 
Westminster and up the little stream to Fleet Prison, which 
they entered by a water-gate not unlike the Traitor's Gate 
at the Tower. This must have added to their sufferings. 
Ben Jonson has given a whiff of the place in The Famous 
Voyage, describing the perilous adventure of Sir Ralph Shelton 



256 FLEET STREET 

and Sir Christopher Heyden, who undertook to row from 
Bridewell to Holborn, accomplished the journey, and lived — 

Say, thou stop thy nose 
'Tis but light pains : indeed, this dock's no rose ; 
In the first jaws appear 'd that ugly monster 
Y'cleped mud, which, when their oars did once stir, 
Belched forth an air as hot — 

but Ben Jonson enjoyed a licence in description not necessarily 
permissible three centuries later — 

All was to them the same ; they were to pass, 
And so they did, from Styx to Acheron 
The ever-boiling flood ; whose banks upon, 
Your Fleet Lane Furies and hot Cooks do dwell, 
That with still scalding steams make the place Hell ; 
The sinks ran grease, and hair of meazled hogs, 
The heads, houghs, entrails, and the hides of dogs : 
For, to say truth, what scullion is so nasty 
To put the skins and offal in a pasty ? 
Cats there lay divers — 

Enough to stop at this point ; indeed, perhaps too much. 

About St. Dunstan's gathered a little outlying colony of 
booksellers, who had their shops in the churchyard. The old 
church, with a long body lengthways with the street, and 
squat tower, was not displaced until 1830, and is familiar in 
many prints. Its embattled stone walls might have stood for 
the Church militant, but more conspicuous in the street than 
the battlements was the clock — in Elizabeth's reign called 
" the dial " — which extended well over the moving traffic 
below. It had not then the two giants with raised clubs to 
strike the hours on the bells, which for so long were one of the 
sights of Fleet Street. Sir Walter Scott, in his Fortunes of 
Nigel, takes liberties with history in placing the giants there 
in James the First's reign, fully half a century too soon, but his 
vivid pages describing this corner near Temple Bar, with the 
goldsmiths' and the barber-surgeons' shops, are otherwise 
historically correct. 

At the bookseller's shop kept by Thomas Fisher, " at the 
signe of the White Hart, in Fleet es tree te," might have been 
purchased in the year 1600, in quarto, a play called A Midsommer 
night's dreamt, written by William Shakespeare. It had been 
sundry times acted, as announced on the title page, by the 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 257 

Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlain his servants, but this 
was the first printed issue. The price was not large — certainly 
not as these quartos are valued to-day — and the connoisseur 
in such matters, returning, would have found others : for 
instance, in 1604, a new play, called The Tragicall Historie of 
Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, by the same William Shakespeare, 
which had been printed at London by I.R. for N.L. " and are 
to be sold at his shoppe vnder Saint Dunston's Church in 
Fleetstreet." Five years after, John Smethwick, the pub- 
lisher of Drayton's poems, at his shop in St. Dunstan's Church- 
yard in Fleet Street, " under the Dyall," had for his customers 
a third quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet, from which the 
author modestly omitted his name. 

The old Flower-de-Luce, at the Fetter Lane corner of Fleet 
Street, was from 1601 the printing office of John Hodgets, 
who there issued plays by Dekker, John Day, Webster, and 
Thomas Haywood. 

Richard Tottel was printing law books at the Hand and 
Star across the road, until his death in 1594, when Charles 
Yetsweirt succeeded to the business. Four years after the 
house passed to John Jaggard, who printed and published 
there during the reign of James the First ; and the old sign 
still swung over Fleet Street when Joel Stephens was occupant 
under George the First. Indeed, the house, No. 7 (last rebuilt 
in 1899), has a continuous record as a printing house over 
three and a half centuries, and remained with the Butter- 
worths, father and son, from 1817 until that well-known firm 
of law publishers removed into Bell Yard, near by. 

Conspicuous at this end of the street was the Great Gate, 
or Tower, of the Temple, built over Middle Temple Lane. 
The lawyers under Elizabeth denied any public right of passage 
through their Inns down to the Thames. Of the original gate 
nothing is known. Sir Amyas Poulet restored and practically 
rebuilt it in 1520. Thereto a familiar story is attached. 
Poulet, a member of the Middle Temple, had come under the 
severe displeasure of Wolsey, having as a justice of the peace 
caused the great Cardinal, when a young man and rector of 
Lymington, to be set in the stocks for no less an offence than 
drunkenness in the neighbourhood of his parish. The Cardinal 
never forgave him. In his day of power he forbade Poulet 
to leave London without licence, and confined him to his 

J7— (2246) 



258 FLEET STREET 

lodgings in the Temple, where he remained practically a 
prisoner for six years. Poulet in 1520 became Treasurer of 
Middle Temple, and took in hand this gate, which he " re- 
edified and sumptuously beautified on the outside with the 
Cardinal's hat, arms, cognizance, badges, and other devices 
in a glorious manner, thereby hoping to appease his dis- 
pleasure." The story, being told by Cavendish, Wolsey's 
gentleman usher, is probably true. The structure was replaced 
a century and a half later by Sir Christopher Wren's gateway, 
which stands to-day. 

Inner Temple Gate has always been of secondary importance, 
and when it was opened none can tell. There is mention of the 
two gates of the Temple in Henry the Eighth's reign, and of 
" the way to the Inner Temple." 

Stow is most tantalizing. " I wil beginne at Temple Barre," 
he opens, but of the bar itself says nothing. We should like 
to have known much more of the bar. An entry in the City 
archives of 1502 (King Henry the Seventh) relating to the 
custody of Temple Bar at a time of popular ferment, is the first 
documentary record of an actual gateway. x It is so shown in 
the Cowdray picture of King Edward the Sixth's Coronation 
procession, here reproduced. This was probably the same 
Temple Bar at which Queen Elizabeth stopped in her progress 
to St. Paul's to return thanks for the defeat of the Spanish 
Armada. Her loyal subject Stow thus describes the occasion 
in his Annals — 

Over the gate of the Temple bar were placed the waites of the 
cittie, and at the same barre the Lord Mai or and his brethren and alder- 
men in scarlet received and welcomed her Majestie to her cittie and 
chamber, delivering to her hands the scepter, which after certaine 
speeches had, her Highnesse redelivered to the Maior, and hee againe 
taking his horse, bare the same before her. The companies of the cittie 
in their liveries stoode in their rayles of timber, covered with blew cloth, 
all of them saluting her highnesse, as she proceeded along to Paules 
Church. 

The gaping shops were dark, like the houses, but made all 
their display in front. " The London Lackpenny " even at 
this time would not be greatly out of date. Advertising by 
print and poster being an undiscovered art, the dealer could 
only announce his wares by word of mouth at his shop, 

1 Noble's Memorials of Temple Bar, p. 21. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 259 

proclaiming their quality, and inviting passers-by to step in 
and purchase. Any trading street thus became a scene of 
noisy confusion. 

Middleton plays a part of his comedy, The Roaring Girl (1611), 
before a series of these open shops of the city traders, the scene 
being thus laid down : " The three shops open in rank : the 
first an apothecary's shop : the next a feather shop : the third 
a sempster's shop." Of course, the ever active apprentice is 
well to the fore, and from the last-named shop passers-by are 
saluted with " Gentlemen, what is't ye lack ? what is't ye 
buy ? See fine bands and ruffs, fine lawns, fine cambricks : 
what is't ye lack, gentlemen ? " This cry for custom is often 
contemptuously alluded to as characteristic of the city trader. 
In a capital old comedy, Eastward Hoe ! the rakish apprentice 
Quicksilver asks his sober fellow-apprentice, " What ! wilt 
thou cry, what is't ye lack ? Stand with a bare pate . . . 
under a wooden penthouse ? " 

There were upper floors in the houses entered by stairs 
from the street, and cellars reached by steps down from the 
street. Stalls further encroached upon and obstructed the 
way. The wardmote inquest at St. Dunstan's in December, 
1574, presented a number of offenders to be dealt with by the 
Mayor and Aldermen : William Ponsell for keeping victuallings 
in his cellar at Temple Bar under the house of Simon Samson, 
and for receiving persons there to eat and drink ; John 
Philipps for keeping victuallings in his cellar at Whitefriars 
Gate ; Edward Allen, William Pratt, Henry Goodhouse, 
Anthony Martin, Thomas Proynd, and widow Smithson, at 
the Whitefriars Gate, and William Powell, for shops under 
their stalls noisome to the Queen's highway and to the 
inhabitants. 

Adam Lorrison was similarly presented in 1619 for thrusting 
out his fruit into the highway so as to be an annoyance to 
passers-by. Adam Harris, a street vendor, was in trouble for 
exposing his baskets in Fleet Street ; and there are com- 
plaints in 1623 against women for selling fruit in the open 
street, and for setting their stalls far into the road from the 
houses, to the hindrance of passengers, and against others 
vending apples and oysters. In fact, so greatly were the 
London streets encumbered by stalls, booths, stools, and 
stairs, that in 1626 Nicholas Lisle laid a project before the 



260 FLEET STREET 

King to increase the revenue by levying a yearly tax upon 
them. * 

Fleet Street lives its most strenuous hours at night. Back 
in the Elizabethan age it would have been found strangely 
quiet, save for the sounds that came from the taverns, and 
mostly deserted, with Temple Bar closed and locked for the 
City's protection, not to be opened until morning. It was 
not until so late as the 1st November, 1753, that the Common 
Council ordered that the postern at Temple Bar should always 
be kept open, together with Ludgate and Newgate. 2 A 
little way up Chancery Lane, left-hand side, is a blind alley 
called Crown Court. It once had a gateway into Ficket's Croft, 
and I find a parish complaint against the residents for failure 
to maintain this gate, whereby at night lewd and disorderly 
characters from the fields made their way into Fleet Street. 

The night watch remained exceedingly primitive. Shake- 
speare, for dramatic purposes, placed Dogberry and his troop at 
Messina, but no doubt he drew them from types of his own 
familiar London. There is in the State Papers of 1578 a 
pathetic appeal to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen by three poor 
watchmen of St. Bride's parish. The men, John Appleby, 
John Guppy, and Thomas Bond, had been called forth at night 
to aid the Sheriffs in quieting a broil in Fleet Street. All 
were wounded in so doing, and likely to be cripples for life. 
They begged relief for themselves and their families. 

A few spluttering candles shed a feeble light in the early 
hours of the evening, the City rule having been, since an order 
by the Mayor as early as 1416, that all householders rated 
over a small sum in their parish should hang a lantern, lighted 
with a fresh and whole candle, outside their houses from 
All-Hallows Eve to Candlemas. As the rush-lights or candles 
burnt to their sockets, and went out one after another, the 
streets were left in utter darkness, lighted only by the occasional 
visit of the night watchman with his horn lantern, going his 
round. The horn lantern replaced the ancient cresset, or 
fire-pot, with its coil of burning rope, flaring and stinking of 
pitch and resin as it was carried swung on a pole shoulder- 
high. There is one of these ancient cressets in the Armoury 
at the Tower of London. 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1626, Nov. 

3 C. Welch, Numismata Londinensia, p. 105. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 261 

" Lanthorne and a whole candle light, hang out your 
lights here ! " was the cry as darkness fell on the city. An 
interesting old print in the British Museum of a Jacobean 
bellman, in frieze gaberdine, leather girdled, and a great slouch 
hat to shield his head from the rain, gives the cry in more 
poetical form — 

A light here, maids, hang out your light ! 
And see your horns be clear and bright, 
That so your candle clear may shine 
Continuing from six to nine ; 
That honest men may walk along, 
May see to pass safe without wrong. 

Of King James the First there is a substantial relic in 
No. 17 Fleet Street, standing over Inner Temple Gate, which the 
London County Council, aided by a grant from the City 
Corporation, has admirably restored. This is a typical 
Jacobean city merchant's dwelling of the better class. The 
house was saved in 1896 when demolition threatened. For 
years it had flaunted a lie upon its face — no, not upon its face, 
for the front itself was false. It was self-announced as 
" Formerly the Palace of Henry the Eighth and Cardinal 
Wolsey." 

Often I had wondered what these two were doing in this 
small house, one being the monarch who had such a Royal 
way of swallowing up his Ministers' possessions. The painted 
misdescription has happily gone, and the dwelling made known 
for what it is, a building of 1611, an upper room in which was 
the Council Chamber of Henry Prince of Wales. As soon as 
the modern additions had been torn aside, the true character 
of the original half-timbered front was revealed. 

The bay windows had gone, but the essential features for 
the restoration were intact. Included among these were 
solid oak storey posts, elaborately carved with pilasters, on 
which were worked the jamb-mouldings of the bays ; the storey 
beams ; a carved storey bracket ; and portions of cornice 
mouldings. Layers of paint, thickly encrusted, had preserved 
the old work in excellent state. Eight of the carved oak panels 
exhibited on the false front were returned to their proper 
place. Beyond cleaning and replacing the windows, the 
restoration required was not very great. 



262 FLEET STREET 

The facade now visible is as nearly as could be ascertained 
by analysis of the work, and by comparison with contemporary 
prints, a reinstatement of what was erected in 1611, except 
that the ground floor, including the gate to Inner Temple, has 
been set back about five feet, as necessitated by the widening 
of Fleet Street. It will be observed that the front overhangs 
storey by storey, each protecting that below it from weather, 
and giving additional floor space. The large bay windows 
were designed to afford the maximum of light from the narrow 
street. 

In Henry the Eighth's reign an inn stood here known as 
The Hande. * The sign displayed in 1610 was The Prince's 
Arms. It was then perhaps a printing house, for at the Prince's 
Arms in Fleet Street Thomas Marsh published Stow's 
Chronicles ; and The Prince's Arms was a printer's back 
to 1554, before which time the sign was The King's Arms. 2 
In the year 1610 the premises had to come down, Inner Temple 
gate being raised in height, 3 and when rebuilding, the Crown 
made a reservation to itself of three chambers over the gate. 
Of these, the principal is that now known as Prince Henry's 
room, which is identified by the Prince of Wales's feathers in 
the ceiling. 

It does not follow from the signs that the house necessarily 
became a tavern, though the fact that a portion was, in the 
year of rebuilding, assigned to William Blake, citizen and 
vintner, makes it likely that wine rooms were actually flourish- 
ing on the ground floor when the Prince's Council was meeting 
overhead. In later years No. 17 Fleet Street was unquestion- 
ably a tavern, known as The Fountain. The fact of a Royal 
chamber and a public hostelry finding shelter under the same 
roof would not have been deemed particularly incongruous in 
James the First's time. 

The exterior is wholly satisfactory, and well it is for London 
that this house, unique of its kind, has been preserved. I 
have often wished that those who took in hand the interior 
of Prince Henry's room had had more courage. Its striking 



1 Ministers' Accounts, London and Middlesex, 114, 31st and 32nd 
Henry VIII. 

2 Arber's Stationers' Register, vol. 5, a.d. 1554-87. 
* Cal. of Inner Temple Records, ii, 50-51. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 263 

beauty is made by the bay window, the figured plaster ceiling, 
which was excellently restored at South Kensington Museum, 
and the original oak carving that still covers the western wall. 
Unhappily, elsewhere this carving had been destroyed, and on 
the second wall of the room the Georgian panelling found in 
place has been retained, while the third wall is of obvious 
Victorian work — a mixture that makes any one sensible to 
historical periods writhe. A modern restoration in keeping 
with the Jacobean part would have been better. The room 
is open free to the public, and the visitor gets his best 
impression by looking towards the wainscot and window. x 

A rare print by S. Pals now hangs on the walls, showing 
the young man at military exercises ; an attractive figure. 
Prince Henry was but eighteen years of age when he died on 
the 6th November, 1612, from typhoid fever. The nation, 
disappointed with King James, that vain fool who thought 
himself wise, idolised his heir. His violent dislike of Popery, 
and refusal to take a wife save of his own religion, made him 
the hope of the Protestant party. It is more than a show 
place, this exquisite chamber ; it is the sole memorial of a 
Prince who, had his life been granted, might have changed the 
whole current of English history. A Civil War, the execution 
of a King, these might have been spared. How different 
would have been the story ! 

In the sorrow caused by his death men talked darkly of 
poison, even hinted that the King was in the plot. May erne, 
the King's physician, had been in attendance. In Mayerne's 
collection of cases for which he wrote prescriptions everything 
that relates to Prince Henry's illness is torn from the book. 
The suspicion seems wholly unfounded. 

Long after Armada days the old hatred of the Spaniards 
survived. Sanctuary given by the Roman Catholic Embassies 
to the hunted recusants made the ambassadors extremely 
unpopular with the London citizens. None provoked such 
bitter hostility as Gondomar, representative of Spain at the 
Court of James the First. His hat, with a valuable jewel in it, 

1 The house has been described in more space than is at my disposal 
by Dr. Philip Norman in The Home Counties Magazine, vol. 2 ; and by 
Sir Laurence Gomme and Mr. Riley in No. 17 Fleet Street, a monograph 
published by the London County Council in connection with its work 
of indicating London houses of historical interest. 



264 FLEET STREET 

was one day snatched from him in the streets, amid the jeers 
of bystanders ; and the accident that one of his gentlemen in 
July, 1618, rode down a child — fortunately uninjured — in 
Chancery Lane led to his house in Barbican being besieged 
by the populace, who broke every window. l 

Round Temple Bar three years later there was a fierce riot. 
It happened that as Gondomar was being carried down Fen- 
church Street, an apprentice standing idly at his master's 
door cried out, " There goeth the devil in a dung-cart." Stung 
by the remark and the laugh it provoked, one of the ambas- 
sador's servants turned sharply on the offender. " Sir," said 
he, " you shall see Bridewell ere long for your mirth." 
" What," cried one of his fellows, " shall we go to Bridewell 
for such a dog as thou ? " and forthwith brought the man to 
the ground with a blow. 

The ambassador lodged a complaint. The Mayor reluc- 
tantly ordered three of the ribald apprentices to be whipped at 
the cart's tail through the City from Fleet Street to Aldgate 
by the common executioner. That any of their number 
should be flogged for insulting a Spaniard, even though he 
were the Spanish King's ambassador, was intolerable to the 
London apprentices. The report spread like wildfire, and soon 
a body of nearly 300 youths had assembled at Temple Bar, 
where they rescued their comrades at the start of their journey 
and beat the City marshals. 

Again Gondomar complained to the Mayor. King James 
suddenly appeared at Guildhall, and threatened to place a 
garrison in the City and to withdraw its charters if things were 
not mended. The end of the affair was tragical enough, for 
Robert Mitchell, apprentice to a haberdasher, who had 
threatened to throw a loaf at the " choppes " of the ambas- 
sador's servant, unhappily succumbed to his ill-treatment. 
The inhabitants were ordered to stand at their doors, halbert 
in hand, and ready for any emergency, whilst they were to see 
that their apprentices, children, and servants behaved well 
towards all ambassadors and strangers as well as his Majesty's 
subjects, while the three victims were being whipped through 
the streets. 2 

1 Remembrancia, pp. 452-3. 

2 Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, ii, 79-82. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 265 

Much more grave was a political riot which disturbed 
Fleet Street in the early years of King Charles the First. An 
arrest was there effected on the night of the 10th July, 1629. 
Some army officers attempted a rescue. The mob rose to 
support them, and in a desperate melee Captain Dawson, an 
officer of the guard, and one or two others were slain. Numbers 
of people were wounded. The King viewed the affray with 
evident alarm. Captain Ashurst and one Henry Stanford, 
described as " late of the Duke's chamber," were taken. They 
were condemned and summarily executed. Warrants went 
out for the arrest of Captain Vaughan, Ensign Ward, and others 
concerned in the murders. 

The luckless Lord Mayor, who was the subject of severe 
censure, had been at his wits' end to appease the tumult. 
The City was poorly stored with powder and shot, and when the 
trained bands were called up to take arms they were found to 
be unfurnished for the service. As the fighting mob had 
poured out of the taverns on the first sign of a scuffle, the Lords 
of the Council peremptorily ordered the Lord Mayor to shut 
up all the taverns in Fleet Street, and to commit the tavern 
keepers to the houses of such citizens as he should think fit, 
there to await further orders by the Council. 

How long this arbitrary imprisonment was suffered is not 
told, but six days later the widow Sutton, keeper of The Mitre 
tavern, and John Marshall, keeper of The King's Head, were 
released on bail and allowed to continue their trade, the 
examinations conducted by Lord Chief Justice Hyde and other 
commissioners at Serjeants' Inn having shown that no crime 
appeared against them. Nearly three weeks passed before 
John Clopton, vintner at The Globe tavern in Fleet Street, 
obtained his liberty. 1 

Public feeling continued to run very high, and further 
offence was given at Court by the " pompous burial " of the 
two persons executed, and by renewed tumult when some thirty 
gentlemen of Lincoln's Inn attacked a King's messenger. 
The Lord Chief Justice and his colleagues reported the affray 
as a riot, while Charles insisted on holding it rebellion — 

Both the King and the Lords hold it strange that it is found but a 
riot, considering that after proclamation by his Majesty's lieutenants 



1 Remembrancia, p. 457. State Papers (Domestic), 1629, July 20. 



266 FLEET STREET 

resistance was made, blood shed, a barricade raised, and capitulations 
required, all which have ever been found capital offences. 

Secretary Coke wrote to the Chief Justice of England in 
the tone of a scolding shrew — 

The King commanded the Secretary to tell the Lord Chief Justice, 
that his eye is not on any man for revenge of his particular offence, 
but on the duty of a King and the ministers of his justice, for the 
preservation of government. He will not prosecute a matter of this 
nature in the Star Chamber, and so publish to the world that his 
government may be opposed without further danger or penalty than a 
fine ; but if our laws permit no other proceedings, his Majesty will have 
it prosecuted no further, rather than make such a precedent to encourage 
rebellion. He is to take the case into consideration and confer with 
the Lord Keeper, that his Majesty may receive a full answer. l 

John Felton, the assassin of George Villiers, Duke of Buck- 
ingham, is a larger figure, overshadowing these petty affairs. 
He was lodging at the house of Thomas Foot in Fleet Lane 
when he set out for Portsmouth, purchasing his knife as he 
left the City. His mother, Eleanor Felton, and a widowed 
sister lodged in Fleet Street with Owen Hughes, a haber- 
dasher. Except in the actual blow which liberated England 
from the uncontrolled licence of the favourite, it is curious 
how the circumstances of that grim tragedy cluster about the 
locality. The Windmill tavern in Shoe Lane was the resort 
where Felton first made himself acquainted with the outspoken 
" Remonstrance " of the House of Commons, declaring Buck- 
ingham to be an enemy of the country and the cause of all 
existing evils. There, with a young scrivener's clerk, Richard 
Harward, he stayed reading the document for two hours, 
and filled his mind with the idea that to kill the Duke would 
both avenge his private wrongs and " do great good service 
to his country." 

His mother and sister were worshipping at St. Dunstan's 
Church when the news of the favourite's death arrived from 
Portsmouth next day, Sunday, the 24th August, 1628, after 
sermon, and while the psalm was singing. People stood up, 
some rejoicing, others grieving, which caused disturbance. 
Felton's name being linked with the crime, the two ladies 
swooned. Immediately after arrest at Portsmouth, Felton 
told his interrogators that he was to be prayed for on the 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1629, Aug. 9. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 267 

morrow at a church by Fleet Conduit (St. Bride's) " as for a 
man much discontented in his mind." 

Among the depositions is that by Elizabeth Josselyn, wife 
of Samuel Josselyn, of Fleet Lane, a stationer who lent out 
books. Early as this there was a circulating library ! She 
testified that she knew Felton lodged at Foot's, and that he had 
borrowed several books from her to read, and had returned 
them all except The History of Mary Queen of Scots. Felton 
she described as a very melancholy man, much given to reading 
of books, and of very few words. She had never seen him 
merry. * 

The gloomy assassin himself underwent several examinations, 
always asserting that he had no accomplices ; and when the 
Earl of Dorset — he of Dorset House, Fleet Street — in the 
King's name threatened him with the rack, Felton replied : 
" If it be his Majesty's pleasure, I am ready to suffer whatever 
his Majesty will have inflicted upon me. Yet this I must tell 
you, that if I be put upon the rack, I will accuse you, my 
Lord Dorset, and none but yourself." This bold stroke 
nonplussed his examiners. King Charles, willing, as he 
incautiously intimated, to sanction torture, but anxious to 
throw responsibility on others, referred the matter to the 
judges. They first met at Old Serjeants' Inn, Chancery Lane, 
and ruled that the King might not put the party to the rack. 
On the 14th November all the judges assembled at Serjeants' 
Inn, Fleet Street, and they " agreed in one that Felton ought 
not to be tortured, for no such punishment is known or allowed 
by our law." 2 So Felton forced from them an avowal of a law 
which condemned all former practices. He died at Tyburn a 
fortnight later. 

Of the stirring events of the Civil War Fleet Street saw 
little, yet one memorable occasion is to be recalled. The 
City was mostly solid for the Parliament, and there was 
intense enthusiasm when the Mayor and Aldermen went out 
to Temple Bar on the 28th September, 1643, to meet the trained 
bands of London returning from Newbury. They had not 
won the battle, but their unbroken front prevented King 
Charles claiming the victory. Rupert's far-famed horse had 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1628, Oct. 3. 

2 C. A. Ward, The Antiquary, xvi, 118, 156. 



268 FLEET STREET 

shattered itself against the serried pikes of the Londoners, 
who stood their ground despite repeated charges of cavalry 
and fearful havoc wrought in their ranks by cannon. Claren- 
don, the Royalist historian of the war, says of them, " They 
behaved themselves to wonder, and were in truth the 
preservation of that army that day." 

By and by came Cromwell to Temple Bar in place of the 
King, Lord Protector of these realms. The Mayor offered 
the civic sword with the usual observances. Cromwell, 
his grim face relaxed into a smile, referred the Mayor to the 
Speaker, then accompanying him, and so, accepting this 
acknowledgment of a new power in the State, they passed 
on to dine in the City. 

It was in Fleet Street, by the Conduit, that General Monk 
lodged when preparing for King Charles the Second's Restora- 
tion, with his troops near at hand, ready to overawe either the 
City or the Parliament. The downfall of " the Rump " 
Parliament, presaging the end, was celebrated by popular 
rejoicings in the streets. Pepys wrote in 1660, February 
11th— 

We went homewards, it being about 10 at night. But the common 
joy that was everywhere to be seen ; the number of bonfires, there being 
14 between St. Dunstan's and Temple Bar, and at Strand Bridge I 
could at one time tell 31 fires. In King Street 7 or 8 ; and all along 
burning and roasting and drinking for rumps ; there being rumps 
tied upon sticks and carried up and down. The butchers at the Maypole 
in the Strand rang a peal with their knives when they were going to 
sacrifice their rump. On Ludgate Hill there was one turning of the 
spit, that had a rump tied upon it, and another basting of it. Indeed 
it was past imagination both the greatness and the suddenness of it. 
At one end of the street you would think there was a whole lane of fire 
and smoke, so hot that we were fain to keep on the further side. 

I close this long chapter with a few matters of domestic inter- 
est to the street, largely gleaned from parish records, before 
the Great Fire made the cleavage with old London complete. 
The first has given the key, which I long sought, to the origin 
of a curiously named alley that has now disappeared. 

Four of the entourage of the Bishop of Tarbes, the French 
Ambassador to Henry the Eighth's Court, had made a wager 
to shoot with a hand-gun. These four, Charles de Castelnau, 
the bishop's brother ; John de Serrate, chamberlain ; John 
Boterel, an esquire ; and Berbard Delasus, steward ; with 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 269 

others on the 7th December, 1536, went to settle the wager 
at the Cock and Key tavern in Fleet Street, by Whitefriars. 
A posse of Englishmen lay in wait, and as they came out 
attacked them with bills, clubs, and staves. The Frenchmen 
ran towards Bridewell, pursued with lusty cries of " Down 
with the French dogs ! " Serrate was cut in the sleeve with a 
dagger, and took refuge under the stall of Berthelet, the 
King's printer. Gilbert de Coste, an ambassador's servant, 
when defending himself with his sword was wounded in the 
head and face by a blow from a bill, and left at St. Bride's 
churchyard. William le Pyed, another servant, being wounded 
was rescued by the parish constable, and by him handed over 
to others to take to the compter, but they used him so cruelly 
that he died next day ; and John Martin, also a retainer, was 
likely to die. 

The upshot is not told, but Cromwell wrote in reply to the 
Ambassador's complaint, " The King has caused it to be 
examined into, and will have the offenders punished." x 

Punishments under the Tudor Sovereigns retained much of 
the character given to them in mediaeval times. The object 
sought was to make an example as a warning to evil-doers, 
and in the most public way, then let the offender go ; if the 
crime was too serious, his life paid forfeit. Back in the year 
1552 the Rose tavern, before mentioned, still stood in Flete 
Street, by Fletebridge. There, on the 19th March, it being 
Lent, the son of a Devonshire clothier brought a duck to be 
roasted. Now eating of flesh was forbidden in Lent by 
proclamation. The officers of the law seized the duck and 
the delinquents together. A cook-boy in the tavern had 
participated in the crime. 

The Lord Mayor and Aldermen gave them this punishment : 
each of the boys was put on a horse, a long spit with the ends 
fastened to their necks joining them together, and from the 
spit depended the roasted duck. In this fashion they were 
made to ride through all the City markets, where their offence 
was proclaimed, and being afterwards kept in prison a day 
and a night, they were then liberated. 

A more serious offence against morals was charged, and 
proved, against Richard Hinse, a tailor, and his sister, dwelling 

1 Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. 11, Nos. 1334 and 1363. 



270 FLEET STREET 

together in Fleete Streete in 1551. Both were committed 
to ward, and the morrow after arrest being Friday, the Court 
of Aldermen ordered that they should be set in a cart, the 
hair of their heads shaven overthwart for a deformity, and a 
paper set on their backs announcing their crime, so to ride 
three market days about the City, proclamation being made at 
each stopping place of the cause for this punishment. There- 
after they were to be left without the gate at Temple Bar — 
banished the city. * 

The custom of making a public example of a criminal at the 
scene of his crime was apt to become burdensome. Many 
Spaniards flocked to London in Queen Mary's reign, and one 
of these, residing in Fleet Street near the Conduit, complained 
of robbery. Two men taken were hanged against his gate 
betimes in the morning, " and so hangyng all the daye in the 
raine," records Machyn, to complete the picture of desolation 
— justice against the thief at a price which few people would 
care to pay. 

When Elizabeth came to the throne, it was no small penalty 
to be Roman Catholic. The Protestant Queen executed 
priests as traitors, with the customary barbarities ; others 
for receiving, comforting, and maintaining priests were hanged. 
There is one shocking case to record. Christopher Bales, or 
Bayles, a young Durham man, had studied at Rome, and 
having entered the priesthood at Rheims, was by his superiors 
sent to the English Mission. He accepted, knowing the 
peril. 

He was taken, racked, hung up in the air for twenty- 
four hours, and submitted to other cruelties, which he bore 
with courage and patience, though of weak constitution. At 
length he was arraigned, under the statute of the 27th Eliza- 
beth, for having been ordained priest beyond the seas, and com- 
ing to England in the exercise of his priestly office. The 
condemnation assured from the outset followed. Bales was 
drawn on a hurdle from his prison into Fleet Street, where a 
gallows had been erected over against Fetter Lane, and there 
hanged, disembowelled, and quartered, on the 4th March, 
1590. He was but twenty-six. Nicholas Horner on the same 
day was hanged at Smithfield, and Alexander Blake in Gray's 

1 Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Society), ii, 68. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 271 

Inn Lane, before his own house, for felony in receiving and 
relieving Bales. x 

Elizabeth's statutes placed the unfortunate Papist in hard 
case. His religion forbade him attending devotions save 
those of his faith, and the laws of his country penalised him for 
staying away from the national church, in fine of £20 for each 
month of absence. Accordingly, it was not difficult to track 
the recusant down, and the hunt was keen. 

James Taylor, a grocer of Fleet Street, made his house a 
resort of his persecuted co-religionists. Means were found to 
convey letters to England in the King of France's packet, 
which then came into the hands of an Italian, by whom they 
were delivered to this tradesman. Elizabeth's Government 
got word of it. "J. C." — whom I take to have been a spy — 
writes to Sir Robert Cecil of Lord Strange and other Papists : 
" You may see they are greedy of intelligence, and have very 
sorry and seldom advices, and to supply them they often invent. 
I do not know Thos. Payne or James Taylor, but it appears 
they be the parties at whose houses I might perhaps have 
some letters at my arrival in London." 2 

The Ministers had already the confession of James Clayton. 
" He had heard mass in the house of Tailor, a grocer in Fleet 
Street, within the last half year : Collington said mass, and 
there were five or six persons present." 3 A list secretly sup- 
plied to the Council by Davie Jones in 1578 gave the names 
and addresses of certain Papists hereabouts, with particulars 
of those who kept chaplains or attended mass — 

Mr. Geve and Dister of the Crown Office, Fleet Street. 

David Sadler, sadler, Fleet Street. 

Rob Hare and Saunders, of the Inner Temple, who repair to Lord 
Paulet. 

Fletcher, of the Middle Temple, Fleet Street. 

Dr. Burkot and Dr. Good, of Chancery Lane, hear Mass at Baron 
Browne's. * 

Hardly can one turn over a page of the wardmote records 
from Elizabeth to the Restoration without finding reports to 



1 Stow, Annals, ed. 1615, p. 760. Gillow, Biographical Dictionary 
of English Catholics, i, 121. 

* State Papers (Domestic), 1592, July 3. 

8 ibid., 1591, April 19. 

4 ibid., Addenda, 1578, Oct. 



272 FLEET STREET 

the Mayor and Aldermen of the names of recusants in the 
parish. It is to the credit of the civic fathers, intensely 
Protestant as was the City, that they took by no means kindly 
to the task of persecution, and where possible shirked that 
duty. I find among the presentments of the St. Dunstan's 
wardmote inquest in 1621 — 

Henry Luthow, for being an obstinate recusant in not coming to 
the parish church, nor will not come by words of his own writing. 

Next year Luthow is again presented for the same fault, 
with others. Every year for forty years, with few intervals, 
his name reappears, then after 1660 no more is heard of him. 
Perhaps he had gone in ripe old age beyond reach of the 
harsh laws he had flouted to some purpose. 

Each St. Thomas's Day the wardmote for the south side of 
the ward of Farringdon Without met at St. Dunstan's Church, 
appointed its grand jury and its petty jury, and considered 
local affairs. The intensity of this local life indicates how far 
it is that we have since travelled. I select a few Elizabethan 
offenders — 

Thomas Smythe, a waterman dwelling in Chancery Lane, 
resorted to the Temple stairs and the Whitefriars bridge to 
wash his clothes. For that he was presented to the Court of 
Aldermen in 1559 as a common annoyer of all citizens. 

James Dalton suffered apprentices to play at dice and lose 
their master's money. He, too, was judged a common annoyer. 

One Masterman kept a cellar under the house of Richard 
Blackman in Fleet Street, " wherein is much figytings, quarrel- 
inge, and other great disorders to the great disquiet of his 
neighbours." These happenings were not uncommon to the 
cellar shops. 

The Elizabethan age has lost none of its glamour over all 
this distance of time ; and women's tongues were sharp. 
It was not infrequent when the domestic peace was disturbed 
by a shrewish wife for the suffering husband to take the verdict 
of his neighbours. These are from the St. Dunstan's wardmote 
registers : — 

Item (1559). We p'sent Barton's wyfe for a comon skold. 

Item (1561). We p'ssent Barton's wyffe for a common scold and 
before tyme p'sentyd for the same and not amendyd. 

Item (1603). We also present Joan Spronoy to be a woman given 
to slanderings, scoldings, and babbling, to the great disturbance of 
her neighbours and others. 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 273 

Item. (1617). We present M e Thimblethorpe dwelling in the Highe 
street in Fleet Streete much suspected by subtile means to be a trouble- 
some woman and of an ill disposition amongst honest and quiet 
neighbours as we are informed. 

What the Mayor and Aldermen did with these scolds when 
the presentments came before them I cannot say ; the Fleet 
was near for a bad case. A scold named Joan Grove was, in 
1574, taken to Bridewell, and there threatened with threescore 
stripes with a whip if ever again she be proved to exclaim with 
her tongue against Sir William Drury's man or any other. 
Little, perhaps, were either threats or duckings effective in 
silencing a persistent woman, for after thirty-four long years 
of added tribulation Barton's plaint came again before the 
inquest (1593)— 

Item. We present Mary the wife of Thomas Barton to be a common 
scold complained of upon divers times as well before the aldermen as 
before the inquest, and also often warned, yet not amended. 

I have touched but lightly upon the neighbourly supervision 
over morals. How intimate it was, two other extracts taken 
from the St. Dunstan's wardmote register must suffice to 
illustrate — 

Item (1561) We present the wife of William Pyatt to be a woman 
of evil living for that she hath played the harlot often times. 

We present (1642) Widd Moody in Fleet Street for that she is found 
to keep a disorderly house, and for that in her widdhood she hath had 
as is credibly reported two children, and still doth do incontinently. 

Bridewell, converted into a Royal Hospital by King Edward 
the Sixth, has many old records of its own of Elizabeth's reign . 
This of a witch — 

Jane Foster brought into this house the xvj day of July, 1559, by 
Mr. Eyles, a deputy of the Ward of Farringdon Without, for that 
the same Jane very naughtily and lewdly took upon her to enchant 
and as it were bewitch Margaret Stone, the daughter of John Stone, 
saddler, without Newgate, and practised the bringing her unto the 
company of one Foster, a serving man, only for lewd or evill purpose. 

And this of a playful City apprentice's coarse joke, and the 
befitting retribution — 

Hugh Barett apprentice to Miles Fawcett, cloth-worker, whipped 
xx April, 1560, for that he in vile manner did hang a cord full of horns 
at the door of Henry Ewart, an officer of this City and the same on 
the Church door, the day the said officer was married. 

18— (2246) 



274 FLEET STREET 

Two other apprentices caught idly speculating on the Queen's 
life fared no better — 

Richard Foster, the apprentice, of the good Wife Dean, hath together 
with Wm. Young, the parent of John Young, neighbour to the said 
good wife Dean, brought into this house the 17th May 1559, for that 
the same Richard and Wm. being both boys, had lewd and naughty 
talk of the Queen's highness, one thereon saying she must live 30 
years and the other said but 2 years, and having been examined were 
found to be very asses, and fools and were therefor here whipped the 
said day and year and so discharged. 

Tobacco was a new vice much in vogue under King James 
the First. As was said of the Highlander disguised in a particu- 
larly wide pair of trousers, " Converts are always enthusiastic." 
Men smoked furiously, believing they found in the leaf a cure 
for all ills. These are from the St. Dunstan's wardmote 
register of 1630— 

Item. We present John Twinco, James Piatt, Thomas Witomy 
and John Knolles for selling ale and tobacco unlicensed, and for 
annoying the Judges of Serjeants Inn whose chambers are near 
adjoining. 

Item. We present Timothy Howe [of Ram Alley, Fleet Street] 
and Humfry Fenne for annoying the Judges at Serjeants Inn with 
the stench and smell of their tobacco. 

Item. We present Thomas Bowringe and Philip Bowringe for keep- 
ing open their shops and selling tobacco at unlawful hours, and having 
disorderly people in their houses, to the great disturbance of all the 
inhabitants and neighbours near adjoining. 

From which one may take it that the Judges did not smoke. 
The dens in Ram Alley early added tobacco to their other 
poisonous attractions : in 1618 the wardmote laid complaint 
against Timothy Louse and John Barker, of Ram Alley, " for 
keeping their tobacco shoppes open all night and fyers in the 
same without any chimney and suffering hot waters [spirits] 
and selling also without licence, to the great disquietness and 
annoyance of that neighbourhood." The trade had not yet 
found its home. One Fleet Street dealer in tobacco whom the 
Star Chamber seized for trading unlicensed was a grocer. 
Another, Gregorie Bootie, to whom three hogsheads of Virginia 
tobacco were consigned, dealt in worsted stockings. 

Hawking was yet a kingly sport, as Fleet Street bore 
reminder somewhat unpleasantly — 

Item (1624). We present James Walmsley and William Summers for 
annoying of divers inhabitants of Fleet Street, and the White-fryars 
by killing of dogge for hawkes, and also keepinge them long alyve 



FLEET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE 275 

howling and crying, and after they have kil'd them, theyr blood and 
filthe groweth soe noysome that yt will be very dangerous for infection 
yf yt be suffered. 

There is news of ill deeds, long since forgotten, in the burial 
registers. These from St. Dunstan's — 

1619, April 12. — Sepcoate Mullingnay being hanged over against 
the Kinge's Head Taverne in Fleete Street was buried. 

1644, April 22. — Sam Langham, a Capt. in the Parliament Service 
killed himself, yet buried in the churchyard by la we. 

1644, May 14. — John Goodladd hanged himselfe, White Alley, 
buried in the Feildes. 

1649, Aug. 18. — Mr. Dawbeny Dysme, Gent, of the Temple. He 
was hanged at Tyburne for pistolling a man in Holborne ; and being 
brought from thence in a boate he was interred by the way -side. 
Twenty four hours after he was buried, out of ye Inner Temple, in ye 
further church yard. 

From St. Bride's marriage register I take one curious entry — 

1653, Nov. 26. — Frauncis Drake, esq., and Mrs. Sussannah Potts 
were married before John Foulke, esq., alderman of the citie of London, 
and one of the justices of the peace for the said citie, att the house 
of Nathan Wright e, esq. in Mark's Lane ; when was present Sir William 
Drake, knt and baronet, Sir John Potts, knt and baronet, N. Wrighte, 
esq. and others, accordinge to an acte of parliament. 

The troubled years of King Charles the First's reign and 
of the Commonwealth did not witness much building in the 
ward. But there was one great change. The northern part 
of Chancery Lane, long after the Knights Templars had left 
it, had been occupied by Southampton House, the magnificent 
town residence of that Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's 
patron, to whom the poet dedicated his Venus and Adonis and 
The Rape of Lucrece. Its gardens extended down Chancery 
Lane from Holborn as far as Cursitor Street, and it was upon 
the wall there that Gerard, Lord Burghley's gardener and the 
father of English botanists, found growing the Whitlow grass, 
" or English Naile woort," as he describes in his HerbalL The 
mansion was razed to the ground in 1639-40, and in its place 
the Earl's successor, under licence by King Charles, built 
eighty new houses, making the street continuous. 

When a poor maid was jilted, what should she do ? Mary 
Baylie, of Shoe Lane, took her sad case to Archbishop Laud. 
For four years Roger Carlisle had courted her, then set her aside 
for another woman, and not satisfied with this slight, had 
further cited her into the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, 



276 FLEET STREET 

to her great charge and trouble, denying that he was ever 
engaged to her. The girl prayed the Archbishop to call Roger 
Carlisle before him, and having examined the truth of her 
statement, to give order for the good of the petitioner, being a 
poor maid, as he should find cause. Laud, it may be, did not 
consider breach of promise of marriage within a Primate's 
jurisdiction. The petition, now in the Public Record Office, 
bears the endorsement, " Reference to Sir John Lambe." 
Perhaps that dour lawyer did such justice as the law of Charles 
the First provided in these matters. 



CHAPTER XIII 

ALSATIA 

Sir Edw. Belfond. I'll rout this lot of most pernicious knaves, for all 
the privilege of your place. Was ever such impudence suffered in 
a Government ? Ireland's conquered ; Wales subdued ; Scotland 
united ; but there are some few spots of ground in London, just in 
the face of the Government, unconquered yet, that hold in rebellion 
still. Methinks 'tis strange that places so near the King's Palace 
should be no part of his dominions. 'Tis a shame to the societies 
of the law, to countenance such practices. Should any place be 
shut against the King's writ, or Posse Comitatus ? — Shadwell, The 
Squire of Alsatia, 1688. 

Back of Fleet Street, on the south side, in a dominion marked 
by most irregular frontiers, might have been found at home 
any time from Elizabeth to William the Third as fine a set of 
scoundrels as were to be met with in England. They were none 
the better for the fact of being unconvicted. That the scandal 
of Alsatia, as this libertine kingdom came to be called, should 
have been suffered so long is testimony to the amazing toler- 
ance of our forefathers. The Restoration dramatists have 
drawn it as it is best known ; and the stage setting is the more 
true as those who were content to seek patronage for their 
plays among the mistresses of Charles the Second's Court were 
in no way restrained from giving expression to the licentious- 
ness of the place by any considerations of delicacy for 
playgoers. 

Admit that the whole subject is unsavoury ; yet Alsatia 
cannot be dismissed as a manifestation of the mere indifference 
of a past age to a foul hotbed of vice existing in the town's 
midst. Plague spot as it became, one need be no apologist 
to recognise that amid a mass of evil it stood for some good — 
even though the price, all things considered, may have been 
excessive. Nothing can condone the cruelty that condemned 
a debtor to life-long imprisonment. x Once he had secured 
refuge in the sanctuary, the poor wretch had at least a chance. 
Alsatia afforded a temporary hiding place from the tyranny of 

1 Late as 1810 Dr. Lettsom, the philanthropic physician of Bolt 
Court, Fleet Street, instanced the case of a debtor who had then been 
in Horsham gaol for forty-one years for a debt of £15. 

277 



278 FLEET STREET 

a king. It gave asylum to the man who had killed a fellow 
by misadventure or in self-defence (as in a duel) until such 
time as he could place his petition advantageously before the 
Crown, and secure the royal pardon. These latter cases of 
sanctuary taking were common, and a warrant was habitually 
granted to the refugee by the Crown in consideration of a small 
payment, its production being necessary at times for his 
personal protection. 1 

Alsatia was a consequence of bad laws. It outlasted any 
legitimate usefulness, but none the less in origin was not 
unworthy. Sanctuary was not the complete madness that 
familiarity with the equal administration of justice makes it 
appear. It was English law before the Norman Conquest. 
In the conditions which so long prevailed in our history, when 
punishment was excessively severe and the penalty uncertain, 
some loopholes of escape were almost a necessity to mitigate, 
in some measure, the harshness of the penal laws. Sanctuary 
served the poor man at least as well as his neighbour more 
fortunately placed, who could plead benefit of clergy, and to 
that extent was a levelling down of class privilege. 

The City's Liber Albus tells that in the year 1234, one 
Henry de Battle — therein described as a clerk — slew Thomas 
de Hall on the King's highway, and fled to the church of St. 
Bride by night. It was not in his mind, nor in that of the 
authorities, that he should find permanent refuge. 

A felon in peril of life could claim by ancient usage sanctuary 
in church for forty days. This claim was made by Henry 
de Battle ; he confessed his guilt to the coroner, rendered 
up his goods to the sheriffs, and taking an oath to abjure the 
realm, was passed in safety from constable to constable until he 
reached a seaport, where he was put aboard a foreign-bound ship. 
He might hope to obtain a pardon, but if ever he returned from 
exile without one the gallows awaited him. There were some 
offences too heinous for sanctuary, though murder was not 
among them ; treason, as menacing the safety of the Crown, 
and sacrilege, as touching the property of the Church. Bur- 
glary, highway robbery, and some others were in later times 
excluded. 

So matters remained until Henry the Eighth, when the 

1 F. A. Inderwick, K.C., Cal. Inner Temple Records, vol. 2, p. xxvi. 



ALSATIA 279 

disadvantages of the system came acutely to be realised. It 
was found that outlaws banished from this country strengthened 
the enemies of the King abroad. They taught the foreign 
archers the practice of the bow as used in England. Others, 
too, says the preamble of the 22nd Henry the Eighth, ch. 14, 
" disclosed their knowledge of the commodities and secrets of 
this realm, to the no little damage and prejudice of the same." 
A change was made which brought sanctuary to its second 
stage. The oath of self-banishment was no longer required. 
Instead of being sent across the seas, felons taking sanctuary 
were to be interned for life in certain English towns indicated 
by Parliament — Westminster, Norwich, and Manchester being 
amongst them. * 

The Carmelite Friars had given sanctuary in their church at 
Whitefriars, as other religious Orders had done. It was the 
sanctuary common to every church and churchyard, and 
nothing more. Special privilege was afterwards claimed for 
Whitefriars, but none existed in mediaeval days. White- 
friars was at no time a chartered sanctuary, like St. Martin 's- 
le-Grand or Westminster Abbey, where sanctuary men might 
spend their lives under the protection of the Church. The 
felon in refuge could hope for nothing from the friars when his 
forty days had passed ; either he must surrender to the law 
and take his trial, or (until the last days) quit the realm. 

Then came the forcible dissolution of the larger religious 
houses in 1538-40, followed by the uncontrolled libertinism 
that gave the dominant character to sanctuary in its third and 
final stage. 

The friars were themselves made outlaws. With that day 
the deplorable history of Alsatia begins, though the name 
itself was applied later 2 — a history entirely disreputable, its 
sordid squalor unrelieved by any spark of generous humanity, 
and foreign to all those ideas of mercy and charity which 
inspired the founders of sanctuary among the churches. It 

1 The essential passages of these Acts of Henry VIII are printed 
by the Rev. J. Charles Cox in The Sanctuaries and Sanctuary Seekers 
of MedicBval England, ch. 18. 

2 The cant name was adopted from the debateable borderland of 
France and Germany, a lawless quarter frequently ravaged by war, 
and familiar to our soldiers who fought in the Low Countries. It 
came only with the Stuarts. 



280 FLEET STREET 

was the sanctuary at Whitefriars in its closing degradation, 
with its rescues, its bravos and bullies, its highwaymen, and its 
termagant hags, that provided Sir Walter Scott with material 
for some brilliant pages of romance in The Fortunes of Nigel, 
and awakened the wonder of Lord Macaulay — wonder that 
" such relics of barbarism of the darkest ages were to be 
found within a short walk of the chambers where Somers was 
studying history and law, of the chapel where Tillotson was 
preaching, of the coffee-house where Dryden was passing 
judgment on poems and plays, and of the hall where the Royal 
Society was examining the astronomical system of Isaac 
Newton." 

Like a fungus, Alsatia grew up amidst the ruins of the 
dismantled Carmelite church and buildings. Though provision 
for sanctuary had gone, the claim was still made that the 
privilege attached to the quarter. It lay within the City, 
but having been consecrated to religious use was beyond the 
Lord Mayor's jurisdiction. This was alone sufficient to lure 
to Whitefriars numbers of evilly-disposed characters anxious 
to find refuge from the laws. It was at first sought to build 
over the friars' precinct with decent houses, but the purpose 
failed. The too common scenes of riot and debauchery made 
peaceable life impossible and property insecure. Stow writes 
in Elizabeth's reign, " In place of this Friers Church be now 
many fayre houses builded, lodgings for Noble men and 
others " ; and Strype, editing him soon after the final closing of 
the sanctuary, is more explicit as to the results — 

This place was formerly, since its building in with houses, inhabited 
with gentry ; but some of the inhabitants taking upon them to protect 
persons from arrests, upon a pretended privilege belonging to the place, 
the gentry left it, and it became a sanctuary unto the inhabitants, 
which they kept up by force against law and justice ; so that it was 
sufficiently crowded with such disabled and loose kind of lodgers. 
But, however, upon a great concern of debt, the sheriff with the posse 
comitatus forced his way in, to make a search ; and yet to little purpose ; 
for they having notice thereof, took flight either to the Mint in 
South wark, another such place, or some other private place, until 
the hurly-burly was over, and then they returned. 

The sanctuary was grouped principally about the site of 
the old Carmelite church, with Water Lane (Whitefriars Street) 
as its chief artery. It is impossible to allocate any definite 
borders. It was not the whole priory, for at all times there 



ALSATIA 281 

survived in Whitefriars, cheek by jowl, a small settlement of 
respectable citizens, wholly distinct from this lawless com- 
munity. Lady De La Warr had a house there when the friars 
were evicted. The Greys, Earls of Kent, buried many of their 
dead in the church, and their town mansion was in the Friars — 
a large house by the Temple gate, with garden and enclosing 
wall, known after the suppression of the priory as The Carme- 
lite, or The White-Friars. It is best entitled to remembrance 
as having been for many years the residence of the great 
Selden, " the most accomplished of jurists, the most learned 
of antiquaries, the most courageous of patriots." 

Thanks to the liberality of Henry Grey, seventh Earl of 
Kent, and afterwards of his widowed countess, Selden was 
able to live in Whitefriars amid great luxury ; but the story 
of his secret marriage with the Countess is probably false. 
She died in the mansion in 1651, and bequeathed it to him. 
Selden himself spoke of it, not without pride, as '■ Museum 
meum Carmeliticum." It contained his Greek marbles, now 
housed in the University Galleries at Oxford, his Chinese map 
and compass, his curiosities in crystal, marble, and pearl, 
his cabinets and cases, all indicated by letters, and, above all, 
his incomparable library. x 

Fragments of the orchard closes of the convent long survived 
in the gardens of the Whitefriars houses. Ogilby, the poet 
and printer, was living in the Friars in Charles the Second's 
reign ; as was John Banister, a favourite violinist and com- 
poser of the Restoration, whose house was " near the Temple 
back-gate." In his music-room there he started in 1672 a 
series of public concerts, which are remarkable as inaugurating 
a now most popular form of entertainment, being the first 
lucrative concerts given in London. A large raised box, with 
curtains, accommodated the musicians, and seats and tables 
were placed round the room, alehouse fashion, for the company, 
who paid one shilling admission, and were entitled to call for 
what music they pleased to be performed. These gatherings 
were so successful that they continued until within a short time 
of Banister's death in 1679, and burial in Westminster Abbey 
cloisters. I give one of his first advertisements — 

These are to give notice that at Mr. John Banister's house, now 

1 Diet. National Biography : John Selden. 



282 FLEET STREET 

called the Musick school, over against the George Tavern in White 
Friars, this present Monday, will be musick performed by excellent 
masters, beginning precisely at four of the clock in the afternoon, 
and every afternoon for the future, precisely at the same hour. — 
London Gazette, Dec. 30, 1672. 

The Bishop of Worcester obtained on the Restoration a 
grant of five houses in Whitefriars formerly belonging to 
Alderman Isaac Pennington, one of King Charles the First's 
judges, then attainted of treason. 

Long before that time, however, the greater part of the 
precinct had been abandoned to the neglect of refugees of the 
baser sort, whose habits of life when herded within the sanc- 
tuary buildings assisted the natural process of decay. The 
lawless quarter has been described by Macaulay in a passage 
often quoted — 

Insolvents were to be found in every dwelling from cellar to garret. 
Of these a large proportion were knaves and libertines, and were followed 
to their asylum by women more abandoned than themselves. The 
civil power was unable to keep order in a district swarming with such 
inhabitants ; and thus Whitefriars became the favourite resort of all 
who wished to be emancipated from the restraints of the law. Though 
the immunities legally belonging to the place extended only to cases 
of debt, cheats, false witnesses, forgers, and highwaymen found refuge 
there. For amidst a rabble so desperate no peace officer's life was in 
safety. At the cry of " Rescue," bullies with swords and cudgels, 
and termagant hags with spits and broomsticks, poured forth by 
hundreds ; and the intruder was fortunate if he escaped back into 
Fleet Street, hustled, stripped, and pumped upon. Even the warrant 
of the Chief Justice of England could not be executed without the help 
of a company of musketeers. 

These people, forming out of a rough camaraderie a body 
for the control of their own affairs, talking a kind of thieves' 
slang, recognised no exterior authority. In later years the 
ward, as evidenced by the wardmote inquests, attempted to 
maintain a semblance of responsibility, compiling each year a 
return of vintners and innholders in Whitefriars, appointing a 
constable, and making frequent presentments against its 
abuses. James the First's charter to the City of London in 
1608 expressly gave the Lord Mayor jurisdiction in the precinct. 
In both cases the form alone, and not the substance, was 
preserved. The Lord Mayor had no sooner sought to exercise 
his authority under James's charter than the Friars gave 
his officers a taste of their quality : this is in St. Dunstan's 
wardmote inquest register, December, 1608 — 



ALSATIA 283 

White Friers. — Item, wee pr'sent Richard Whelor late constable of 
the same precincte, and John Saunders deputy constable to John Tumor 
of the said precincte for that wee of the enquest goeinge to p'forme our 
duties according to the Lord Maior's command by warrant to take notice 
of such innormities as we their should fynd, weare resisted by the 
aforesaid constables notwithstanding my Lord authorite or warrant. 

Next year eleven victuallers were found in Whitefriars, 
" whereof six is thought sufficient " by the inquest. One of 
these was " Anne Flore, who heretofore hath been carted for a 
disorderlie course of life, is now suspected of the same dis- 
order." Evidence is borne of the breaking up of the mansions 
built after the priory's dissolution. That of Sir John Parker, 
Knight, was " nowe divided into twentie small tenements," 
and the house of Francis Pike, victualler, into no fewer than 
thirty-nine tenements. " Theis two landlords (say the inquest- 
men) are those that doe breade much poore people in the same 
precincte, and much annoyance." 

A place boasting that it lived without laws depended for 
its existence upon no written law. It is useless to search for 
any statute which set up Alsatia, though there are several 
that aimed to overthrow it. The claim it maintained to 
shelter malefactors, and more especially debtors, against 
the laws they had violated rested upon nothing more sub- 
stantial than the immemorial right of sanctuary, which the 
Carmelites first gave to Whitefriars in the thirteenth century, 
and the most that can be said for the claim is that by use 
and custom it came to be tolerated. 

James the First's charter to London of 1608 has been usually 
accepted as the justification of Alsatia, such as there is. In- 
cidentally the charter gave the Lord Mayor charge to inquire 
into all witchcrafts. It has been much misunderstood. 
Leigh Hunt and others have written as though the charter was 
specifically granted to the debtors. It confirms in the fullest 
manner all the ancient rights, privileges, and immunities of 
the London citizens, without attempting to define them. 
There is not a word about sanctuary. There is, in fact, 
an invasion of the sanctuary, the precinct of the Friars being 
thereby added to the City's jurisdiction. The exceptional 
character of Whitefriars, which its inhabitants had claimed 
under Elizabeth, 1 is, however, acknowledged by their being 

1 Lansdowne MS., British Museum, 155, p. 79, 



284 FLEET STREET 

wholly exempted from all taxes, fifteenths, and other bur- 
dens of scot and lot, and watch and ward, within the City, 
saving only charges for the defence of the realm and special 
services to the King. They are further exempt of all charges 
for pavements, and cleansing of lanes, ditches, water-courses, 
and sewers within the precinct. Nor are they liable to serve 
in the office of constable or scavenger, or other like charge. 1 
The result was naturally a fearful state of insanitation and 
neglect. In 1610 the inquest reported of Water Lane, " the 
waie being soe stopped with dung and dirte that the passengers 
can hardlie passe, and the pavement soe broken and ruyned 
that if speedilie redresse be not had neither horse can drawe 
his loade nor passengers goe that waie." 

Loose as was the constitution of the sanctuary, its limits 
were equally indefinite. The place spread far beyond the 
dismantled precinct of the Carmelite Friars, for what gave 
strength to Alsatia as a harborage was the many different 
means available of access and escape. In one direction, the 
claim of privilege was set up for Salisbury Court, as having 
formed a part of the ancient hostel, with chapel and grounds, 
of the Bishops of Salisbury. In another, the sanctuary which 
attached to the buildings and burial-ground of the Temple 
Church was of more substance. It existed from the time when 
the Knights Templars first settled by the Thames side, and was 
based upon grants by the Papacy, confirmed by successive 
kings and allowed by the courts. In addition, the Inns of 
Court maintained their claims to be extra-parochial and 
exempt from the City's jurisdiction down to our own time, 
so that the actual sanctuary ground was itself hemmed in by 
territory over which the benchers alone exercised authority. 
The Alsatians, of course, had no word in the management of 
the Temple, but how this contiguous property served them as 
a convenient doorway will be shown. 

Beyond these ways, and the open river at their foot, the 
refugees in Whitefriars, when pressed by bailiffs or creditors, 
could take advantage of several masked entrances from Fleet 
Street. Cellar shops about the Whitefriars gate had back 
exits into the Friars. I find frequent complaints. The 



1 Historical Charters, City of London. Ed. Birch, p. 139 et seq. 



ALSATIA 285 

wardmote inquest of St. Dunstan's assembled in 1581 called 
the widow Pandley to account — 

Item. We present the cellar of widow Pandley for that it hath 
a backdoor into the white fryers, and for receiving of lewd persons, 
both men and women, to eate and drinke in her cellar, and to 
play at unlawful games, and for that she hath no licence, often presented 
and not amended. 

The famous Mitre Tavern in Fleet Street (Hoare's Bank 
covers the site) at one time afforded similar facilities from its 
yards at the rear. In 1603 the jury presented the house — 

That there is a back door leading out of Ram Alley to the tenement 
or tavern called the Miter in Fleetstreete by means whereof such 
persons as do frequent the house upon search made after them are 
conveyed out that way. 

Other devious but more legitimate routes of getting into 
the Temple were by Serjeants' Inn ; by Mitre Court, for which 
also a claim of sanctuary was made ; by Fuller's Rents, and 
elsewhere. But the strongest outwork of Alsatia, with the 
longest record of infamy, was Ram Alley. 

Alsatia in its habit of life, though somewhat late, is best 
represented in Shad well's The Squire of Alsatia. The play 
was written in 1688, while the sanctuary was still a scandal. 
Shadwell, a dull person generally, with flashes of genius, had 
remarkable powers of depicting contemporary manners. 
" The Alsatia scenes," Professor Saintsbury has remarked, 
" are so lively and bustling, and the whole goes along so 
trippingly, that an audience (of the time, of course) would 
have been hard to please who had not liked it. Even the 
dialogue is smarter and more pointed than is Shadwell's 
wont." 1 

Sir William Belfond's heir, a bumpkin from the country, 
falls into the clutches of the rogues of Alsatia. A cousin, 
Shamwell, lures him into the company. This man has been 
cheated and ruined himself, and dare not stir out of the sanctu- 
ary, where he lives a debauched life. Cheatly is the centre 
of a rascally group, making it their business to inveigle young 
heirs in tail, and help them on usurous terms to goods and 
money, which the plunderers share. By such means the 
victim's prospective fortune is exhausted, or so encumbered 
that he is brought completely within their power. 



1 Shadwell's Plays, Mermaid Series. 



286 FLEET STREET 

The bill is filled with Alsatian types. Scrapeall, a hypo- 
critical, psalm-singing knave, pretends to great piety. He, 
too, assists the swindlers. There is a cast-off mistress of young 
Belfond's brother. A dissipated divine who has fled into the 
sanctuary would disgrace even the Fleet parsons — 

Shamwell. — But what shall we do for our Whitefriars' chaplain, our 
Alsatian divine ? The rogue is holed somewhere. 

Cheatly. — Tis true ; pray go instantly and find him out ; he dares 
not stir out of his covert ; beat it well all over for him ; you'll find 
him tappes'd in some ale-house, bawdy-house, or brandy shop. 

Shamwell. — He's a brave swingeing orthodox, and will marry any 
couple at any time ; he defies licences and canonical hours, and all 
those foolish ceremonies. 

Shadwell has drawn with most vigorous strokes the Alsatian 
bully. Captain Hackum is one of a type of which the sanctuary 
possessed scores. This " thunderbolt of war," a coward at 
heart, full of bluster and impudence, was formerly a sergeant 
in Flanders, and having deserted from the colours, retreated 
into Whitefriars for a very small debt, where by the Alsatians 
he is dubbed a captain. There he marries a bawd, who lets 
lodgings and sells illicit cherry brandy. " O' my conscience," 
says the deluded Squire, " the captain's mighty valiant ; 
there's terror in that countenance and whiskers ; he is a very 
Scanderberg incarnate." " For my part, I love magnanimity 
and honour, and those things ; and fighting is one of my 
recreations," retorts the bravo, who when confronted in the 
Temple walks by his victim's aged father, runs from his drawn 
sword — 

Hackum. — No man e'er gave me such words but forfeited his life. 
I could whip thee through the lungs immediately ; but I'll desist at 
present. We shall take a time, sir, another time, sir. 

Shadwell's first intention was to use the title of The Alsatian 
Bully, but the character as drawn is too slight to give the name 
to the play. 1 

There is a spirited scene in the sanctuary when the long 
blast of a horn and noise of tumult give warning that the Friars 
are up. " The tipstaff ! an arrest ! an arrest ! " is cried, and 

1 See also Otway's play, The Soldier's Fortune (1681), where Courtine 
observes : "I shall be ere long as greasy as an Alsatian bully ; this 
flopping hat pinned on one side, with a sandy, weather-beaten peruke, 
dirty linen, and to complete the figure, a long scandalous iron sword 
jarring at my heels." 



ALSATIA 287 

again the horn blows. Sir William Belfond, come to seek his 
son and to secure his seducers, enters with a tipstaff, the 
constable and his watchmen. The posse of the Friars, drawn 
up, confronts them. Bankrupts hurry to escape. " Are you 
mad to resist the tipstaff, the king's authority ? " asks Sir 
William ; but the shout still goes up, " An arrest ! " and others 
flock out of the dilapidated houses with all sorts of weapons. 
Women join them with fire-forks, spits, and faring-shovels. 

Cheatly. — We are too strong for 'em. Stand your ground. 

Sir William. — We demand that same Squire, Cheatly, Shamwell, 
and Bully Hackum. Deliver them up, and all the rest of you are safe. 

Hackum. — Not a man. 

Sir Will. — Nay then, have at you. 

Tipstaff. — I charge you in the king's name all to assist me. 

Rabble.— Fall on. 

[Rabble beat the constable, and the rest run into the Temple. Tipstaff 
runs away. They take Sir William prisoner."] 

Cheatly. — Come on, thou wicked author of this broil, you are our 
prisoner. 

Sir Will. — Let me go, rogue. 

Sham. — Now we have you in the Temple, we'll show you the pump 
first. 

Sir Will. — Dogs ! rogues ! villains ! 

Sham. — To the pump, to the pump ! 

Hack. — Pump him, pump him ! 

Belfond, Senior. — Ah, pump him, pump him, old prig ! 

Rabble. — Pump, pump, to the pump ! Huzza ! 

A rescue is effected by the Templars, led by Sir William's 
younger son. The gate on Whitefriars is shut, and the three 
leaders of the mob trapped inside. Young Belfond throws a 
guinea to the Temple porters, with the injunction, " See these 
three rogues well pumped, and let 'em go through the whole 
course." Cheatly's cry that he is a gentleman, and Hackum's 
that he is a captain, are of no avail. " The whole course," 
as understood, and practised, by the lively young Templars 
of that day, and all that it meant, may be gathered from the 
remarks of the characters of the play when, wet and saddened, 
they are thrust through the gate into the sanctuary — 

Cheatly. — Oh, unmerciful dogs ! Were ever gentlemen used thus 
before ? I am drenched into a quartan ague. 

Shamwell. — My limbs are still and numbed all over. But where I 
am beaten and bruised, there I have some sense left. 

Hackum. — Dry blows I could have borne magnanimously ; but to be 
made such a sop of ! Besides, I have had the worst of it, by wearing 
my own hair ; to be shaved all on one side, and with a lather made of 



288 FLEET STREET 

channel dirt, instead of a wash ball ; I have lost half of the best head 
of hair in the Friars ; and a whisker worth fifty pounds, in its intrinsic 
value to a commander. 

Cheat. — Indeed your magnanimous phiz is somewhat disfigured by 
it, captain. 

Hack. — I am as disconsolate as a bee that has lost his sting ; the 
other moiety of whisker must follow. Then all the terror of my face 
is gone ; that face that used to fright young prigs into submission. 
I shall now look but like an ordinary man. My honour is tender, 
and this one affront will cost me at least five murders. 

Cheat. — A fish has a damned life on't : I shall have that aversion to 
water, after this — that I shall scarce ever be cleanly enough to wash 
my face again. 

The one occasion when the Friars paid respect to the law's 
majesty was when a sergeant and a file of soldiers invaded the 
privilege of their sanctuary on some grave occasion, bearing 
a warrant backed by sufficient force. Shadwell has such a 
scene in his play, where again the horn blows and the streets 
fill with rufflers and bullies — 

Truman. — What do all these rabble here ? 

Constable. — Fire amongst 'em. 

Serjeant. — Present ! 

[The debtors run up and down, some without their breeches, others 
without their coats ; some out of balconies ; some crying out, " Oars, 
oars, sculler ! " " Five pounds for a boat ! " " Ten pounds for a 
boat ! " " Twenty pounds for a boat ! " The inhabitants all come 
out armed as before ; but as soon as they see the musqueteers they 
run, and every one shifts for himself. 

Tru. — Hey, how they run ! 

Lord Macaulay, with a sure sense of historical value, used 
The Squire of Alsatia as an authority in the chapter of his 
history describing the manners of England at the accession of 
James the Second. l Already, when Shadwell wrote, the 
Whitefriars sanctuary was decaying and less crowded than in 
its most strenuous days, but the picture he draws makes a 
fairly accurate representation of the place at any time from the 
first of the Stuarts. 

1 Sir Walter Scott's indebtedness to The Squire of Alsatia for his 
restoration of the sanctuary in The Fortunes of Nigel is self-evident to 
anyone who has read both the play and the novel. Scott took his 
chief character, that of Duke Hildebrod, the ruler of its rough council, 
from another of Shadwell's plays, The Woman Captain (1680). In The 
Lucky Chance, Mrs. Aphra Behn's comedy (1687) Bellmour, the hero, 
is hiding in Whitefriars until he can obtain the King's pardon for 
killing his man in a duel. 






ALSATIA 289 

A remarkable crime committed in Whitefriars early in the 
reign of James the First stirred England, then in no way 
favourably disposed towards the invading Scot, to its depths. 
It brought Lord Sanquhar to the gallows, and two accomplices 
shared his fate. This young Scottish noble, who had followed 
the King south, and had married into a good English family, 
was head of an ancient house claiming descent over three 
centuries. Five years or more before the crime for which he 
suffered, he had been a guest of Lord Norris at his seat at 
Rycote, Oxfordshire. There he met John Turner, a fencing 
master. They engaged with the foils. In the bout Lord 
Sanquhar had one of his eyes put out. This appears to have 
been a pure accident, and did no credit to the skill of the 
professional master of fence. 

Some time after Lord Sanquhar was at the Court of King 
Henry the Sixth of France. In conversation, the monarch 
questioned him upon the loss of his eye. It was done with a 
sword, the nobleman replied. 

" Doth the man live ? " the King asked. 

The question put thoughts of revenge into Lord Sanquhar's 
mind It is conceivable, in the manners of that day, that a 
gentleman should consider his honour affronted by such a loss 
received at mean hands. That the honour of a gentleman 
should require him to hire murderers to avenge the 
affront is less easily explained. Lord Sanquhar, brooding 
over the affair, was led to a desperate resolve to take 
Turner's life. Returning to England, he sought his adversary 
both in London and the country, but could not approach 
him. In his confession he acknowledged, " If I had met 
him in any place of the Court, I was then resolved to have 
run him through ; though the place had made my offence the 
greater." 

Foiled on every hand, Lord Sanquhar engaged two ruffians 
to effect his purpose. Robert Carlisle had been a page in 
Sanquhar's household, and — though too late to save him, 
Carlisle having been already hanged — the baron spoke of the 
man's warm affection for his patron which induced him to 
commit the deed. Gilbert Gray, a purely mercenary spirit, 
lost nerve when the plot had ripened. Lord Sanquhar there- 
upon secured the services of one Irving, a Border Scot without 
scruple. 

J9— (2246) 



290 FLEET STREET 

Turner had his lodging in Whitefriars, l among the habitu6s 
of which he found demand for teaching his skill. His school 
of fence was near by. Lord Sanquhar's excuse for not pursuing 
him into the sanctuary was that he was himself well known 
there. One evening in May, 1612, about seven o'clock, Carlisle 
and Irving went in, and found the fencing master sitting at 
his door, talking with a friend. The assassins greeted him, 
and Turner hospitably asked them to drink. Carlisle and 
Irving turned aside to cock their pistols, and then Carlisle, 
drawing his weapon from under his coat, fired upon Turner 
where he sat, and shot him below the heart. " Lord have 
mercy upon me ! I am killed ! " cried the master of fence, 
as he fell to the ground. The Friars was soon in an uproar. 
The murderers fled. 

Irving, a stranger amidst this labyrinth of alleys, ran into 
a wood-chopper's court by the river, through which there was 
no exit, and was soon taken. Carlisle escaped into Scotland. 
Lord Sanquhar went into hiding in England ; and Gray got 
away to sea, only to be thrown back by a storm. He gave 
King's evidence. King James was furious at the crime, and 
the more incensed that it was committed at the instigation 
of a Scottish noble. All efforts to discover Lord Sanquhar's 
hiding place being without avail, the King caused a reward 
of £1,000 to be offered for his discovery and that of his accom- 
plices. Carlisle was arrested. Lord Sanquhar, stung in con- 
science by the consequences of his act, surrendered to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, an object of pity, 
throwing himself upon the King's mercy. 

Lord Sanquhar was not convicted by his peers. His barony 
being Scottish only, he was arraigned in the name of Robert 
Creighton before the King's Bench in Westminster Hall. A 
plea of guilty shortened his trial. Very early the same morning 
that he came before the judges to receive sentence, gibbets 
had been erected in Fleet Street, over against the great gate of 
the Whitefriars, and thereon Carlisle and Irving were hanged. 
The former swung 6 feet over the head of his meaner fellow. 
This was the etiquette of the scaffold. It was the manner of 
Scotland when a gentleman was hanged with a man of lesser 

1 It is likely that this was the same John Turner before mentioned, 
who was constable of the Whitefriars precinct in 1605-8. 



ALSATIA 291 

quality than himself, for the gentleman to have the honour 
of the higher gibbet, and he thought himself much wronged 
if not so disposed of. 

The speech at Lord Sanquhar's trial of Francis Bacon, then 
Solicitor-General, and the judgment of Mr. Justice Yelverton, 
are noteworthy for little save a nauseating bespatterment 
of James, whose justice, said the former, knew no respect of 
persons, and whose " long arms " stretched out to reach crim- 
inals throughout the length of his kingdom. A judge's death 
sentence preceded by bombast of this sort loses its solemnity — 

Done upon the sudden ! done in an instant ! done with a pistol ! 
done with your own pistol ! under the colour of kindness : As Cain 
talked with his brother Abel, he rose up and slew him. Your execu- 
tioners of the murder left the poor miserable man that was murdered 
no time to defend himself ; no time to pray for himself ; scant any 
time to breathe out these last words, Lord have mercy upon me ! 
An act of murder so base and so barbarous as the like I never heard of , 
nor scant the like a man shall never read of. 

In his condemnation the unhappy man was anxious to rebut 
an aspersion cast upon him that he was an ill-natured fellow, 
ever revengeful and delighting in blood. James refused his 
clemency. Lord Sanquhar perished on the 29th June, 1612, 
in Great Palace-yard, before Westminster Hall, where a gallows 
had been erected. A good while he spoke to the people, then 
the executioner turned the ladder, and left him hanging. 
There was much compassion among the throng gathered round 
until it was found that his lordship died a Roman Catholic. x 

The Temple, immediately adjacent to Alsatia, was a conve- 
nient jumping-off ground for all its rogues and vagabonds. The 
Temple's own right of sanctuary made it secure ; a right which 
at least the young bloods among the lawyers were zealous to 
maintain, not loving the Alsatians with fervour, but deter- 
mined to defeat all outside interference in their own privileged 
quarter. An incident of 1618 displays their spirit. One 
Thurston Hunt, a prisoner in the Poultry Comptor, being 
removed by habeas corpus returnable before Justice Warburton 
in his chambers at Serjeants' Inn, escaped into the Temple. 
The gentlemen there rescued him. The Sheriffs' officer, 
greatly daring, attempted a recapture. In the resulting 
turmoil he was seized, thrown into the Thames, and dragged 



1 Cobbett's State Trials, ii, 743 et seq. 



292 FLEET STREET 

through the river in peril of his life. The Sheriffs thereafter 
wrote to Lord Chief Justice Montagu, hoping that he and the 
other judges would take steps " for reformation of such 
insolences ... as they knew their Lordships (out of their love 
for their fellowships) had rather prevent than punish." * The 
Sheriffs were left to pocket the insult, nothing being done. 

The Inns were, in the first year of James the First, " greatly 
grieved and exceedingly disquieted by many beggars, vaga- 
bonds, and sundry idle and lewd persons who daily pass out 
of all parts of the City into the Temple garden [through 
Ram Alley] and there have stayed and kept all the whole day 
as their place of refuge and sanctuary," 2 making the church- 
yard, as a scandalised member of the Middle Temple com- 
plained, "a common and most noysome lestal " (dunghill). 3 
The benchers found the greatest difficulty in keeping their 
territory inviolate against incursions by their turbulent 
neighbours. 

A gateway in the eastern wall, then as now standing in the 
centre of King's Bench Walk, but with steps down into the 
Friars, opened direct communications between those whose 
business it was to flout the laws, and the Templars studying 
to preserve them. The ancient wooden gate was replaced 
only in 1887. 4 This could be temporarily closed on occasions 
of broils in the sanctuary. The Alsatians, when harassed 
by a sheriffs' posse in strength, or faced by a file of musqueteers 
sent to enforce the Lord Chief Justice's writ, had other means 
of swarming into the Temple. A broken wall at the kitchen 
garden could easily be surmounted. There was a door through 
the wall of the King's Bench office into Whitefriars, frequently 
the scene of contests between Templars and Alsatians. It 
was oftentimes bolted and barred against the dwellers in the 
sanctuary, and as often broken open by them, until, in 1631, 
the Temple strongly built up the doorway with bricks. 5 

1 Remcmbrancia, p. 452. 

a Cal. Inner Temple Records, ii., 8. 

* ibid., ii, 56. 

4 When the existing wider entrance to the Temple from Whitefriars 
was constructed in that year, one of the suggestions made was that 
old iTemple Bar should be rebuilt there to form the new gateway ; 
but this was not carried out. 

6 Cal. Inner Temple Records, ii, 188. 



ALSATIA 293 

These means gave escape from the sanctuary. I have 
mentioned some backways for entering Alsatia via the Temple. 
There were others blocked up by the benchers only after many 
complaints. From Fleet Street, passing through a shop and 
house in Falcon Court of one Davies, a tailor, came " a dis- 
orderly crowd of outlawed persons which dare not show them- 
selves abroad in the streets." The height even of Ram Alley's 
lawlessness was reached by one Anthony Gibbs, keeper of 
a cook's shop in the alley, who in the year 1600 had the effron- 
tery to build a staircase upon the Temple ground into his house, 
" and made two doors out of his kitchen opening into the 
Temple ground, and made forms for such as resort to his house 
upon the Temple ground to sit tippling and drinking, to the 
great annoy of the students and gentlemen." The benchers 
suppressed him. 

Ram Alley may still be found in Fleet Street, an old rogue 
wearing the aspect of a reformed character, but you must 
look for Hare Place — as if renaming could shatter its evil 
notoriety ! The passage, scarcely 7 feet wide, runs parallel 
with Mitre Court down to the footway from Serjeants' Inn into 
the Temple. You pass it by with scarcely a glance at the 
entirely uninteresting backs of houses, for all its life has gone. 

Come you to seek a virgin in Ram Alley, 
So near an Inn-of-Court, and amongst cooks, 
Ale-men and laundresses ? 

asks one of the characters in Lo Barrey's comedy, Ram Alley, 
or Merrie Tricks (1611), and the question is instructive of the 
place. 

I have spoken of the looseness with which the claim of 
sanctuary was advanced and accepted, and nowhere is it 
better exemplified. The Knights Hospitallers had owned 
here a property known as " The Starre and the Ramme," x and 
the sign gave its name to Ram Alley, in which the Inner Temple 
at one time possessed five shops. Ram Alley, however, 
formed no part of the ground consecrated to ecclesiastical 
purposes ; the last use I have found for the original Star and 
Ram was that of a brewery. It yet maintained by force a 
claim to enjoy privilege of sanctuary up to the very last 
days. The fact in 1640 that a debtor had taken refuge in Ram 

1 See pages 207, 247, ante. 



294 FLEET STREET 

Alley was considered by his creditor sufficient reason to place 
before the judges for not pursuing him farther. *■ 

In this narrow passage, then, as now, closed to Fleet Street 
by a gate, and shouldering the wall of Serjeants' Inn, lived as 
motley a crowd of evil characters as could be collected any- 
where in London. The life of the place, to-day so empty, was 
hot and fetid. Ram Alley epitomised all the sordid elements 
of Alsatia. Its most infamous house, situate near the Temple 
end, and made known by contemporaries and the more positive 
evidence of frequent complaints by the wardmote inquest, bore 
the sign of the Maidenhead. 2 Every house was a resort 
of ill-fame, and therein harbored women, and, still worse, 
men, lost to every instinct of humanity. I have not turned 
a page of the inquest register throughout the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries without rinding complaint against 
the characteristic life of Ram Alley, its reeking dens, its bawds, 
its occupants' disgusting habits. 

The unlicensed dram shops were frequently being presented. 
Cheats with false weights and false measures figure every 
year. Judged by their repetition, the Court of Aldermen 
could do nothing. None could cauterize this plague spot. 
At times the King's officers, descending in force, would raid the 
alley, its refugees running helter-skelter to find concealment. 
The State Papers contain a Parliament's warrant, 1650, to 
Serjeant Dendy, to apprehend a man who came wounded into 
Ram Alley, on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of 
messengers of the Council of State. 

Quite as mixed as the people were the trades carried on, for 
there were traders content to live in this hell. The shops were 
then on both sides of the paved footway. 3 Of the five of these 
owned by the Inner Temple, one was used by a stationer, 
another by a cook, a third by a tailor, the others being " two 
little shops " their particular business unknown, but the rent 
of one was but ten shillings per annum. The speciality of 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1639-40, Feb. 20. 

2 The house, No. 5 Ram Alley, still bore the sign in 1802, and its 
evil character had not changed. It was then described as being "in 
a ruinous condition." (St. Dunstan's Wardmote Inquest, Dec, 1802.) 

3 This is shown in seventeenth century maps, and is confirmed by 
subsequent rate-books, Serjeants' Inn bearing a portion of the rate 
for the backs of its houses built into the alley. 



ALSATIA 295 

Ram Alley was, however, its cooks, who supplied dinners for 
the neighbouring taverns, and even shared in the preparation 
of the Lord Mayors' feasts. Lickfmger, " my cook, that 
unctuous rascal," is represented by Ben Jonson in his Staple 
of News as the glory of the kitchen and master of a shop in 
Ram Alley ; the knave had managed to purloin for his shop 
twenty eggs provided for the " Custard Politic " — the huge 
custard that figured in the mayoral feast. 

This part of the alley's active life obtains frequent mention 
in the old plays — 

And though Ram Alley stinks with cooks and ale, 
Yet say there's many a worthy lawyer's chamber 
'Buts upon Ram Alley — 

and Massinger, in A New Way to Pay Old Debts, alludes to 
these greasy forerunners of our restaurants — 

The knave thinks still he's at the Cook's shop in Ram Alley 
Where the clerks divide, and the elder is to chose ; 
And feeds so slovenly ! 

Will Poole, the astrologer quack, and contemporary of Lilly, 
lived in Ram Alley. 

Everything known of Ram Alley pictures it in a condition 
of decay, which seems to have been its unchanging state. A 
glimpse into the alley from Fleet Street disclosed a line of 
dilapidated house-fronts. Broken gutters, which no one 
troubled to repair, delivered a shower-bath upon the passer-by 
after every rainstorm. Over the shops, with their clatter and 
smell, were quiet rooms, whence came occasionally the sound 
of riot and disorder, and faces peered out of the patched 
windows. They were not pleasant faces. The "widdy's" 
who figure so frequently in Ram Alley's scandalous annals 
were widows only by courtesy. 

It was the custom of the inhabitants to fling their refuse 
into a laystall, or heap, before their houses. When it became 
too offensive even for them, they swept it surreptitiously into 
Fleet Street, and thus were at constant warfare with con- 
stituted authority. The benchers, by walling up the entrances, 
shut out Ram Alley from the Temple. The judges and Ser- 
jeants in Serjeants' Inn were too near neighbours to escape 
offence. I cite a single sentence (1638) — and there are many 
like — from the wardmote inquest : " We present widdowe 
Wall for often throwinge out at her windowes Chamber pots 



296 FLEET STREET 

with filth to the great Annoyance of M e . Thomas Lake into 
his garden and walle [in Serjeants' Inn] she having had warninge 
often given thereof, sufficient and lately made." Over the 
rest a veil. 

There is an account, quite in the Rabelaisian manner, of 
the usages of Ram Alley in a publication of the year 1673, 
which the curious may consult. l Of certain " special cases " 
in its life the writer says — 

In the case of Linnen, it hath been adjudged that if three good 
fellows and constant Companions have but one shirt between them, 
and that these three (seeing none of their other shifts will do them 
any good) jointly consent this shirt shall be sold, it shall be lawful 
for them to expose it for sale, vended and condemned for the common 
good of three, and that forthwith the money be spent in cherishing 
that blood that retired from the extream parts, being chil'd with 
the fright of parting with so near and dear a friend. 

Lest it be thought that good never came out of Ram Alley, 
the story of Hare House, its oldest known building, is interest- 
ing. It was in the year 1584 left by John Bowsar and Hum- 
phrey Street upon trust for 1,000 years, that every Sunday 
thirteen pennyworth of bread should be given to thirteen 
poor people of the parish after service in St. Dunstan's Church. 
Though the penny loaf has shrunk in size in three and a quarter 
centuries, the annual sum of £2 16s. 4d. specified by the donors 
is to this day distributed in bread weekly to the poor, who 
benefit by these worthy Elizabethans' charity. 

The house was destroyed in the Great Fire, and, afterwards 
rebuilt, sank into the decay customary with all Ram Alley. 
So dilapidated had the place become early last century that 
the best use the parish could make of it was to shelter 
paupers without rent. 2 Hare House has been swept away, but 
the name survives to conceal the identity of one of London's 
most pestilent courts from all save those who know their 
London well. Let into the back of one of the buildings of 
Serjeants' Inn may still be found a boundary stone with 
" Ram Alley " deeply cut in its face — last surviving relic of 
Ram Alley in its bad old days. 

1 The Floating Island, or a New Discovery relating to the Strange 
Adventures on a late voyage from Lambethana to the Villa Franca, alias 
Ramallia, to the eastward of Terra del Tempo (1673). Some extracts 
are given by Besant, Survey of London. 

a Tisley's Account of St. Dunstan's Charities, pp. 11-12. 



ALSATIA 297 

In line by the side of Whitefriars Street, and driving the 
houses at the end to the point of a wedge, you may still find 
Hanging Sword Alley, in its present state only a long passage 
between printing works, dividing the extensive premises of 
the Daily Chronicle and Lloyd's Newspaper, among others. 
" What a world of mystery and of terror of old days," says a 
recent writer, "is in the very name. It is a conjunction of 
words that calls up visions of ancient, bitter feuds, of deadly 
enmities, and quick, rude revenges/' The name is, however, 
like those of so many other neighbouring courts, taken from 
a house sign, the Hanging Sword, which swung out in the wind 
and sun in John Stow's time, and long before. x 

Once this alley teemed with life — the life common to all 
Alsatia. Its house of most execrable reputation came to be 
known as Blood-Bowl House, and the name was given in 
slang to the alley itself. The associations were always san- 
guinary. Hogarth's " Industry and Idleness " series depicts 
in Plate 9 the interior of this den. Tom Idle, returned from 
sea, is there betrayed to the watch by the prostitute with 
whom, two plates earlier, he is seen in a garret. He is too 
busily engrossed with the thieves' " fence " to notice the 
entrance of the posse, the leader of which slips coins into the 
woman's hand. A grim piece of realism at the back of the 
scene is the body of a murdered man being thrust through a 
trap door. 

A crime committed in this house, long after the dissolution 
of the sanctuary, gave Hogarth the idea for his plate. Captain 
George Morgan, in the early morning hours of the 17th July, 
1743, seeing a lady in the street and fearing for her safety (that 
was his story) gallantly offered to escort her home. He was 
taken into the Blood-Bowl House, and there robbed and 
assaulted. 

At the trial of James Stansbury and Mary his wife at the 
ensuing September sessions at the Old Bailey, the woman 
asked a witness, " Have I not let you go all over the house, 
to see if there were any trap-doors ? " The witness, one 
Sharrock, replied that he had looked all over the house, and 
saw no trap-door. This man spoke of the place as Blood- 
Bowl House. Asked how he came to know of the Blood 

1 See page 246, ante. 



298 FLEET STREET 

Bowl, Sharrock replied that he had seen it in the newspapers. 
Mr. Alfred Marks, the painstaking historian of " Tyburn 
Tree," who records the case, says that he has been less fortunate, 
having found nothing in contemporary prints referring to the 
name or to the trap-door. Stansbury was acquitted, and his 
wife condemned to death, reprieved, and transported overseas. 
Hanging Sword Alley has literary fame, for there Dickens 
made the home of Jerry Cruncher, with his prayerful wife, 
at whom during her devotions he threw his boot, and his son, 
Young Jerry, known to readers of A Tale of Two Cities — 

Jerry, who stood outside Tellson's Bank at Temple Bar [under this 
name the novelist gently satirises the old-fashioned ways of Child's], 
and was never by any means in it, unless called in, was an odd-job 
man, an occasional porter and messenger, who served as the live sign of 
the house. He was never absent during business hours, unless upon an 
errand, and then he was represented by his son, a grisly urchin of 
twelve, who was his express image. People understood that Tellson's, 
in a stately way, tolerated the odd-job man. The house had always 
tolerated someone in that capacity, and time and tide had drifted this 
person to the post. . . . 

The scene was Mr. Cruncher's private lodging in Hanging Sword 
Alley, Whitefriars, the time half -past seven of the clock on a windy 
March morning, Anno Domini seventeen hundred and eighty. (Mr. 
Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as " Anna 
Dominoes," apparently under the impression that the Christian era 
dated from the invention of a popular game by a lady who had bestowed 
her name upon it.) 

Mr. Cruncher's apartments were not in a savoury neighbourhood, 
and were but two in number, even if a closet with a single pane of glass 
in it might be counted as one. But they were very decently kept. 
Early as it was on the windy March morning, the room in which he 
lay abed was already scrubbed throughout, and between the cups 
and saucers arranged for breakfast, and the lumbering deal table, a 
very clean, white cloth was spread. Mr. Cruncher reposed under a 
patchwork counterpane, like a Harlequin at home. 

Though swept clean, and paved and lighted, Hanging Sword 
Alley, when you walk its length, gives a fair idea of what the 
rookeries of Alsatia must have been like. There is scarcely 
room for two to walk abreast. The exit is by precipitous steps ; 
and the entrance is masked by Crown Court. A line of houses 
at the south end, with back doors on the alley, open upon 
Whitefriars Street. The double means of escape well served 
the purpose of the thieves and rogues who infested the place 
when pressed in pursuit. There are other steep steps up to 
Magpie Alley, and the whole neighbourhood of Whitefriars 



ALSATIA 299 

goes up and down in curious fashion, intersected by winding 
courts like George Yard and Primrose Hill. At times the 
wayfarer is brought up suddenly in a cul-de-sac, as in Brittons 
Court, beneath which lies the fourteenth century Carmelite 
vault already described. 

Lombard Street and Silver Street have been assumed to be 
Alsatian humour, slang names given to the rookeries in con- 
tempt of the wealthy quarters of the city. Lombard Street 
it is to-day. Boar's Head Alley, Fleet Street, survives only as 
a private back-way. It led to the old Boar's Head, a White- 
friars tavern in the fifteenth century, rebuilt after the Great 
Fire. The house savoured of Alsatian ways, and late as 1775 
there is a complaint by the wardmote inquest against Sarah 
Fortescue, victualler of the Boar's Head alehouse in Fleet 
Street — 

for keeping her house open at unseasonable hours, frequently the 
greatest part of the night, and for harboring and entertaining lewd 
women and other infamous and disorderly persons, to the great 
disquietude and disturbance of her neighbours. 

Highwaymen found Alsatia a convenient refuge to slip 
into ; a place well to their liking, for here was excellent hiding 
for man and stabling for horse, congenial comrades, and small 
peril of capture. A knight of the road with pockets lined with 
gold, as quickly lost as won, commonly figured among the 
company in its gambling dens and drinking cellars, which no 
doubt were the nursery of many who kicked off their shoes 
in bravado at Tyburn's fatal tree. An example was made of 
one of their number close at their door, in 1690. A gibbet was 
put up in Fleet Street, at the end of Salisbury Court, and there- 
on was hanged in sight of the mob a notorious highwayman 
known throughout the Home Counties as the Golden Farmer — 
his name being William Davis — and his body was afterwards 
despatched to swing in chains on Bagshot Heath. 

In the last days of the sanctuary there was a desperate 
fray between the Alsatians and the gentlemen of the Temple, 
arising out of an attempt by the benchers to close and brick 
up the Whitefriars gate. Fast as the workmen laid the bricks 
the excited refugees pulled them down. A sheriff's posse 
intervened to quell the tumult, and was roughly assailed. 
Shots were fired, one of the officers was killed, and several 
persons were injured. The authorities, stirred to action at 



300 FLEET STREET 

last, raided the sanctuary in force, arresting seventy of the 
Alsatians, who were despatched to various gaols. The Society 
of the Inner Temple voted £10 for the widow of the murdered 
man. 

This outbreak of lawlessness occurred on the 4th July, 1691, 
and Luttrell further relates in his Journal that not until two 
years later was Captain Winter, who had headed the mob of 
Alsatians, placed on trial and convicted of wilful murder. 
Although reprieved, he was eventually hanged in Fleet Street, 
opposite Whitefriars, the scene of his misdeeds, and " died 
very penitently." Not until 1697 was the Whitefriars sanctu- 
ary despoiled of its privilege by the 8th and 9th William the 
Third, ch. 27, and it required supplementary Acts of Parlia- 
ment of George the First and George the Second before London 
was finally swept clean of such places. 

Water Lane, which was the rogues' highway, ceased to be so 
called more than half a century ago. "It is better builded 
than inhabited," Maitland wrote in 1751. Its Victorian 
residents, anxious for a more honourable name than their 
predecessors troubled about, petitioned the Commissioners of 
Sewers in 1844 for a change, and since that year it has been 
known as Whitefriars Street. A happier choice could not 
have been made, though it is poor compensation for the loss to 
an historic city like London of a name that had been for 
centuries in use. The cobbled street, sloping in a tortuous 
line to the Thames, was excessively narrow until widened 
after the Great Fire. 

It was long little more than a passage way for carts to the 
laystall by the river, and was dirty in keeping and reputation, 
yet might claim respectability. Tompion, the father of 
English watchmaking, kept, under the sign of The Dial and 
Three Crowns, the corner shop at Fleet Street, No. 67 [Daily 
News advertisement offices in 1912), for five-and-twenty years 
before his death in 1713. England had produced no horologist 
to compare ; but it is extravagant to claim for him, as is some- 
times thoughtlessly done, the invention of the balance spring, 
which really belongs to Robert Hooke, and of the repeating 
watch and cylinder escapement, both devices by Edward 
Barlow. Tompion was the first to make watches with these 
improvements. The cylinder escapement enabled our watches 



ALSATIA 301 

to go comfortably into our pockets, for by dispensing with the 
vertical crown wheel they could for the first time be made 
flat. 

He was the master craftsman. Mr. Britten has said : " The 
theories of Dr. Hooke and Barlow would have remained in 
abeyance but for Tompion 's skilful materialisation of them. 
When he entered the arena the performance of timekeepers 
was very indifferent. The principles upon which they were 
constructed were defective, and the mechanism was not well 
proportioned. The movements were regarded as quite sub- 
sidiary to the exterior cases, and English specimens of the art 
had no distinctive individuality. After years of application 
Tompion, by adopting the inventions of Hooke and Barlow, 
and by skilful proportion of parts, left English watches and 
clocks the finest in the world, and the admiration of his brother 
artists." 1 

It was frequently asserted while St. Paul's was rebuilding 
that Tompion was constructing a wonderful clock for the 
Cathedral ; and in The Affairs of the World, Oct., 1700, the 
following announcement appeared — 

Mr. Tompion, the famous watchmaker in Fleet Street, is making a 
clock for St. Paul's Cathedral, which it is said will go for one-hundred 
years without winding up, will cost £3,000 or £4,000, and be finer than 
the clock of Strasburg. 

No such clock was ever made ; but Lord Mostyn has now 
in his possession a clock, fashioned by Tompion for King 
William the Third, which needs winding but once a year, and 
he has the names of almost every person who has wound it 
during the past century. 

Late in life the old horologist gave to Bath a long case 
clock, wound once a month, engraved with his name and the 
date 1709. It is familiar to visitors to the Pump Room there, 
still keeping time after two centuries' use. A " wheel " 
barometer by him hangs in King William's bedchamber in 
Hampton Court Palace. 

Tompion lies in Westminster Abbey. His nephew, George 
Graham, who had been associated with him, continued the 
business after his death, and in 1720 moved across Fleet Street 
to the Dial and One Crown, No. 148. The Sporting Life offices 



1 Britten : Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, p. 270. 



302 FLEET STREET 

cover the site. It was then a quaint little shop, with two 
bow windows and a doorway between them, and with but 
little alteration in appearance remained as a watchmaker's 
for many years, occupied after Graham by Thomas Mudge 
(inventor of the lever escapement) , then by Mudge and Dutton, 
and later by the younger Duttons. * 

Another worthy of Water Lane was Mr. Filby, Goldsmith's 
tailor, who at The Harrow (there is still a Harrow, to-day a 
tavern) cut some amazing costumes for the vain little poet. 
Boswell must have found malicious delight in garnering this 
scrap of conversation — 

" Well, let me tell you (said Goldsmith) when my tailor brought 
home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, ' Sir, I have a favour to beg 
of you. When anybody asks you who made your clothes, be pleased 
to mention John Filby, at the Harrow in Water Lane.' " 

" Johnson. — Why, Sir, that was because he knew the strange colour 
would attract crowds to gaze at it, and they might hear of him, and see 
how well he could make a coat, even of so absurd a colour." 

Cock and Key Alley has gone. You may search in vain 
to-day for Bride's Alley, for Wilderness Lane, Cressers Court, 
Cloth Workers' Court, or Waterman's Lane, all within the 
Friars. Dogwell Court, by which Bouverie Street runs, was 
once famous for The George tavern, built upon it. A scene 
of Mrs. Behn's play, The Lucky Chance, was located at The 
George. In Shadwell's Squire of Alsatia, old Sir William Bel- 
fond comes to confront his riotous son during his revels at this 
tavern, and the house is mentioned by other seventeenth 
century dramatists. The tavern did not long survive the 
dissolution of Alsatia. In 1699 it closed its doors, and the 
same year became the office of those eminent printers, the 
Bowyers, father and son. 

Fire completely destroyed the old George on the 30th 
January, 1713, the elder Bowyer's stock of types and printing 
materials and books in hand being consumed, and his business 
ruined. A member of his family perished in the flames. 
Bowyer's character stood high ; indeed, so greatly was he 
respected that on his behalf the old procedure of a King's 
" brief " for a charitable collection was revived, and the joint 
efforts of his brothers of the craft and private friends, the 
Stationers' Company and the two Universities assisting, 



1 Britten, p. 283. 



ALSATIA 303 

produced a subscription of £2,539, with which he rebuilt in 
Whitefriars on the same site. Bowyer's losses were estimated 
at over £5,000. 

In the George the poems of Lord Byron were first printed. 
There was born on the 19th December, 1699, William Bowyer 
the younger, " the learned printer," who lived in the house 
and its successor for sixty-seven years. His father became 
the foremost printer of his day ; the son brought new fame 
to the house by his remarkable learning and profound know- 
ledge of the classics. He edited a number of works produced 
by his press, and was himself a considerable writer of pamphlets 
and prefaces, all the time continuing, after the parent's death 
in 1737, the active control of an expanding business. The 
younger Bowyer left a considerable fortune, and among his 
many charitable bequests that of £6,000 for the benefit of old 
printers, compositors, and pressmen is still being administered 
by the Stationers' Company. 

Afterwards the premises were occupied by Thomas Davidson, 
and having passed to Messrs. Bradbury and Agnew (who 
recently rebuilt) there have issued from their doors for sixty 
years the merry pages of Punch. 

Alsatia reeked with ale-houses and inns. A once familiar 
tavern was the Black Lion, west side of Whitefriars Street, 
a picturesque old place, with a small yard and exterior wooden 
gallery. There is a graceful drawing of it in the Crace collec- 
tion. In part, at least, it survived until the year 1877, when 
a large and pretentious gin-palace was built in its place ; 
but trade did not prosper, and to-day an illustrated newspaper 
of wide circulation, The Daily Mirror, occupies the erstwhile 
licensed house. Long memories will also recall the Rose and 
Crown at the foot of Whitefriars, a genuine old waterside inn, 
left high and dry by the building of the Thames Embankment 
upon its front. It came down about 1880. It was a quaint 
object thus stranded, with a great projecting wooden structure, 
like the stern-galley of a ship, and open leads with a view up 
and down the river, upon which many a Squire of Alsatia had 
taken his ease, his tobacco and strong waters, in the intervals 
of predatory excursions in the neighbourhood. 

One great business remains in Whitefriars, a link with 
Alsatia in its old, scandalous days. Land was at the close of 
the seventeenth century to be had cheaply, and there came 



304 FLEET STREET 

William Davis, founder of the Whitefriars Glass Works. This 
was a flourishing concern by 1710, when, on the 10th August, 
the following advertisement appeared in The Tatler — 

At the Flint Glass-House in White-Fryars near the Temple are 
made and sold by Wholesale or Retale all Sorts of Decanthers Drinking 
Glasses Crewits &c. or Glasses made to any Pattern of the best Flint ; 
as also all sorts of common Drinking Glasses and other Things made 
in ordinary Flint Glass at reasonable Rates. 

With more than two centuries unbroken record, the White- 
friars Glass Works is the oldest glass manufactory in England. 
Alexander Seal succeeded Davis. Then came Carey Stafford, 
who is memorialised in the adjacent St. Bride's church as " The 
Master of the Glass Works," and " a most ingenious and ex- 
cellent artist." There followed Stephen Hall in 1766, Hall and 
Holmes, 1781, and John Holmes, 1791. In the year 1837 the 
business was acquired by James Powell, in whose family it 
has since remained, the present owners being three of his 
grandsons. 

Every variety of glass article is produced at the Whitefriars 
Glass Works, and the basis of every one is the bulb of molten 
glass blown by the workman's breath at the end of a hollow 
iron rod. This is true even of a church's stained-glass window. 
Night and day the manufacture goes on uninterruptedly 
from Monday till Friday, by successive relays of men. Then 
two whole days each week the crucibles are closed and the 
furnace glows red, this time being required thoroughly to 
fuse the raw materials of which glass is made. 

Other trades have been wholly revolutionised by machinery. 
The more pleasant, then, is it to find surviving a process of 
manufacture that in two centuries has undergone no important 
change ; as old as the Romans in England, as old, probably, 
as the glass-blowers of the Pharaohs. Each piece turned out 
is hand-wrought, whether tumbler, vase, lamp-shade, or any 
of a thousand other articles, and to this, no doubt, is largely 
due the excellence of Messrs. Powell's artistic productions, 
worthy rivals of the finest work of Venice. Sir William Rich- 
mond's mosaics for St. Paul's were executed by craftsmen 
and in materials sent from Whitefriars. 

Of late years the glass-works have been largely extended, 
but there remains unchanged a picturesque dwelling-house 
of the William and Mary period, with fine panelled rooms. 




THE WHITEFRIARS GLASSWORKS 
Drawn by T. R. Way 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 

Boldly I dare say 
There have been more by us in some one play 
Laugh'd into wit and virtue, than have been 
By twenty tedious lectures drawn from sin 
And foppish humours ; hence the cause doth rise, 
Men are not won by th'ears, so well as eyes. 

Randolph. 

In the early and adventurous years of the London theatre 
plays were staged at Whitefriars, where three playhouse build- 
ings are known. Those to be distinguished for the moment as 
Nos. 1 and 2 stood below Salisbury Square, on or about the 
same site, one replacing the other. The third was a later house 
of the Restoration, built facing the Thames, where to-day is the 
playground of the City of London School ; it was the last of the 
theatres in the City, and the last to which playgoers went by 
boat. A claim has been made for yet another, more remote 
than any of these, which it has been customary to name the 
Whitefriars Theatre. Unquestionably there was a stage 
within the Friars before the building of the Salisbury Court 
Theatre in 1629. Of what this earliest theatre consisted is not 
well established. 

It has been said that the Whitefriars Theatre was Eliza- 
bethan, and the date 1580, or earlier, has been given, mainly 
on the evidence of Richard Reulidge's Monster Lately Found 
Out and Discovered : or the Scourging of Tipplers. This 
Puritanical tirade, the work of a fanatic, was not printed 
until 1628. The tract states that soon after 1580 many godly 
and well-disposed London citizens, perceiving that playhouses 
and dicing houses were traps for the young and others, and 
seeking some speedy course for their suppression, made humble 
petition to the Queen and her Privy Council, " and obtained 
leave from Her Majesty to thrust the players out of the City, and 
to pull down all playhouses and dicing houses within their 
liberties : which accordingly was effected ; and the playhouse 
in Gracious Street, Bishops-Gate Street, that nigh Paul's, 
that on Ludgate Hill, and the Whitefriars, were quite pulled 
down and suppressed by the care of these religious senators," 

305 

20— (2246) 



306 FLEET STREET 

This is no conclusive evidence of the existence of an estab- 
lished playhouse in Whitefriars so early as 1580 — far from it. 
Reulidge wrote nearly fifty years after, and his statement, 
read literally, has been discredited. Letters from the Privy 
Council show that the public stage was still active. On the 
18th November, 1581, the Lords of the Council wrote to the 
City authorities, recalling — 

That for avoiding the increase of infection within the City last 
summer, orders were sent to them for restraining of plays until 
Michaelmas last. As the sickness had almost ceased, and was not 
likely to increase at this time of year, in order to relieve the poor 
players, and to encourage their being in readiness with convenient 
matters for Her Highnesses solace till next Christmas, they required 
them forthwith to suffer the players to practise such plays, in such 
sort, and in the usual places, as they had been accustomed, having 
careful regard for the continuance of such quiet order as had been 
before observed. 

In the following spring the Council wrote again to the 
Lord Mayor, much to the same effect. * 

It is plain from these letters that at the instance of the 
Court the plays were revived after temporary prohibition, 
due to the plague then raging in London, and in no way 
indicating Elizabeth's sympathy with the Puritanical hatred 
of the stage. The Queen's active interest in the drama is 
shown by the fact that in 1583 she took into her own service a 
company of players made up from actors patronised by some 
of her nobility. 

Reulidge 's Monster Lately Found Out is valuable for the 
indication it gives of the real character of the Whitefriars 
stage at this time. He classes it with the "playhouses" in 
Gracechurch Street, Bishopsgate Street, that nigh Paul's, 
and that on Ludgate Hill. No one of these was a theatre in 
the sense of houses already established, like the Theatre and 
the Curtain in Shoreditch, or the later theatres at Blackfriars 
and on Bankside. They were merely the temporary scaffolds 
erected at inn yards, about which " the groundlings " assembled 
on the cobbled pavement, and the better part of the audience 
witnessed the performance from the surrounding galleries, or 
some part of the stage itself — the Cross Keys in Gracechurch 
Street, the Bull in Bishopsgate Street, that " nigh Paul's " 

1 Remembrancia, pp. 350-51. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 



307 



in St. Paul's schoolroom, and the Bell Savage on Ludgate 
Hill. Indeed, there is much to indicate that the drama was 
first introduced to Whitefriars in no playhouse built for the 
purpose, but either in the old refectory of the Carmelite friars, 
or at some inn-yard. Probably plays were staged at both. 
Although Reulidge writes of the Whitefriars theatre as a 



a: 

ul 

> 

D 
O 

CO 




Site of Carmelite Friars' Refectory 

Probable home of the first Whitefriars Theatre. Land now covered by 
" Daily News " editorial offices 



" playhouse," and being " quite pulled down and suppressed," 
when examined with our knowledge of these other inn-yard 
stages his meaning is clear, and to reject him as worthless is 
foolish at least. The Theatre in Shoreditch had been built 
in 1576 or 1577 by James Burbadge, the Earl of Leicester's 
player, and, near by, The Curtain is mentioned in December, 
1577. They were the first London theatres properly so called ; 



308 FLEET STREET 

they were available for stage performances " soon after 1580," 
when Lord Charles Howard's and Lord Hunsdon's companies 
and the new Queen's company, with the boys' companies, 
would have been sufficient for Her Majesty's Christmas 
" solace." Mr. Fleay thinks it not unlikely that the City 
authorities may, about this time, have succeeded in suppressing 
the inn-yard performances and those at Whitefriars ; l but the 
whole matter is conjectural. 

The only account extant of the condition of the Whitefriars 
Theatre is that given by Collier, quoting from an original 
survey of a portion of the Whitefriars precinct made in March, 
1616, which was formerly in his possession. This he states 
(New Facts, p. 44) contained the following paragraph — 

" The theatre is situate near unto the Bishopp's House, 
and was in former times a hall or refectorie belonging to the 
dissolved Monastery. It hath beene used as a place for the 
presentation of plays and enterludes for more than thirty 
yeares, last by the Children of Her Majestic It hath little or 
no furniture for a playhouse, saving an old tattered curten, 
some decayed benches, and a few worne out properties and 
pieces of Arras for hangings to the stage and tire house. The 
raine hath made its way in, and if it bee not repaired it must 
soone be plucked downe or it will fall." 

It appears likely that this, and nothing more, was the 
structure dignified by the name of the Whitefriars Theatre — 
the abandoned refectory of the friars, making a large and 
commodious room, in which the stage was erected on trestles 
when required, the audience standing around. We are unfor- 
tunately without the material upon which the survey was 
made. Though Collier's authority has been discredited, the 
fact that the players did act in the old hall of the priory is 
established by contemporary evidence. 2 

1 Fleay, Chronicle History of the London Stage, p. 39. 

2 Rossiter's Patent of 3rd May, 1615, authorising him to build a 
theatre in Black friars, recites that he and others had " trayned up 
and practised a convenient nomber of children of the Re veils for the 
purpose aforesaid in a Messuage or mansion house being parcell of 
the late dissolved Monastery called the White Fryers, neare Fleete- 
streete in london." (Malone Society's Collections, i, 277-8.) The 
friars' refectory, as shown in an earlier chapter, had been granted 
to James Morrison, the King's armourer, at the suppression. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 309 

But from an unexpected source I find confirmation of the 
existence, and the sorry condition, of the playhouse in White- 
friars, valuable because it fills an otherwise void space. The 
wardmote inquest of St. Dunstan's, in December, 1609, listed 
various abuses in Whitefriars, and their register contains this 
entry — 

Item. — Wee present one playhouse in the same precinct not fitting 
there to be now tolerable. 

And the St. Dunstan's burial register tells of the theatre in 
the year 1607 by these entries — 

Sept. 29. Gerry out of the playehouse in ye Fryers buryed. 
„ ,, Francis sonne of the saide Gerry likewise buryed. 
30. Wife of the said Gerry buryed. 

— three deaths in the playhouse practically simultaneously. 
There was no plague in London at the time, and perhaps these 
burials indicate some deplorable accident. 

If the conditions for the presentation of plays in the friars' 
old hall were in no way favourable, at least they were not worse 
than those of many of the inn-yards. The deplorable state into 
which the playhouse (for the time) had fallen in 1616 is easily 
to be explained. Performances would be given only at 
intervals. No actual record is found of any regular company 
of players acting at Whitefriars before 1610. Often such 
intervals were long, as indicated in the letters already cited. 
The plague was a common visitor to the London of Elizabeth 
and James the First, and upon its appearance all public gather- 
ings were prohibited for fear of spreading the infection. Early 
in James's reign the theatres were closed when the plague 
deaths in London rose to thirty a week ; in or about 1619 the 
limit was raised to forty. 1 Left untenanted, sometimes for 
months together, an old building even when the friars deserted 
it in 1538, the refectory would soon fall into decay when repairs 
were neglected, and the weather was free to act upon the 
patched walls and rotting timber roof. 

I fancy that the actors who performed in Whitefriars before 
1610 were in part strolling players, " vagabonds " of their 
own age. The place offered compensation for its many 
disadvantages. Although the Carmelite friars had been 

1 The theatres were closed continuously for seventeen months in 
1608-9 on account of the plague. 



310 FLEET STREET 

expelled and their hitherto secluded precinct converted into a 
populous quarter of the city, the land yet retained the extra- 
territorial privileges which had attached to the religious house. 
The Lord Mayor, except when acting on the orders of the 
Council, had no jurisdiction there ; and the Council reflected 
the views of the Courts, both of Elizabeth and James the 
First, in supporting the players, while the City authorities 
remained their bitter enemies. The attitude of the City 
fathers is well shown in their answer to the petition made to 
the Council by " Her Majesty's poor players " in 1575 for leave 
to perform. They said : "To play in plague time increases 
the plague by infection : to play out of plague time calls down 
the plague from God." Hobson's choice ! 

Religious bigotry alone does not account for the persistent 
hostility of the City to the stage. The play was performed 
in the afternoon. It was announced by a procession through 
the streets, with drums and trumpets and banners. A flag 
was flown at the established theatres to indicate a performance. 
This, it was complained, brought together the idle and dis- 
orderly characters of the town, tempted apprentices away 
from the shops, choked the narrow streets, and interfered 
with trade. I have given already the petition of the inhabitants 
of Blackfriars. More substantial objection was that to the 
gathering of all sorts and conditions of people in crowded 
playhouses when plague was endemic in the City for the greater 
part of the year. 

James the First's charter of 1608 expressly gave the Lord 
Mayor jurisdiction within the old priory precinct ; but by that 
time the stage's battle had substantially been won. Every 
company of players then existed by Royal patronage and 
licence, and later Burbadge was able to build the Blackfriars 
Theatre in defiance of the City. 

We have a definite date for stage performances in White- 
friars in the 4th January, 1610, when the second Children of 
the Queen's Revels company began their occupancy of the 
theatre there. It was, presumably, still the refectory, or hall, 
of the Carmelite Priory, for no mention is made of a theatre 
having been built. Their patent, bearing the date above, 
authorised them to act " within the white Fryers, in the Sub- 
burbs of our Citty of london, or in any other convenyent 
place," and appointed Phillip Rossiter and certain others 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 311 

managers of the company. 1 Mr. J. Tucker Murray indicates 
certain probabilities that the Children of Paul's acted at White- 
friars up to 1607. They were then reorganised as the Children 
of the King's Revels, continuing to perform at Whitefriars 
under their new name until 1609, when they dispersed. 2 

The Children of the Queen's Revels had been set up by 
Evans, from whom the Burbadges in 1608 had taken over the 
remaining lease of the Blackfriars Theatre. Originally they 
were known as the Children of the Chapel. They played 
under the Burbadges at Blackfriars for a brief period, and their 
removal to Whitefriars was no doubt caused by the occupation 
of the former house by the King's company, then in the hey-day 
of their fame, who from that time till 1642 continued to use 
the Globe and the Blackfriars Theatres. 3 

Ben Jonson's Epicoene was one of the first plays performed 
at Whitefriars by the Queen's Revels, in 1610, at some date 
before the 25th March. Rare Ben himself is thought to have 
acted Morose. The principal members of the company are 
known from the list of actors affixed to this play. They were — 

Nathaniel Field, 

William Barkstead (Baxter), 

Giles Carey, 

William Perm, 

Hugh Attawel, 

Richard Allen, 

John Smith, 

John Blaney. 

Another list of the company given in the second folio edition 
of Beaumont and Fletcher's Coxcomb (dating before the 29th 
August, 1611) has the added names of Joseph Taylor, Emanuel 
Read, and Robert Benfield — Penn, Smith, and Blaney having 
at this time fallen out. 

Mr. Fleay says that from 1610 to 1613 Chapman, Jonson, 
Field, Marston, and Beaumont and Fletcher all wrote for the 
second Queen's Revels Children, acting at Whitefriars. This 
company, however, did not retain undivided possession of the 
place. Taylor's Hog hath lost his Pearl was performed in 

1 Malone Society's Collections, i, 271-2. Also see the second foot-note 
on p. 308, ante. 

2 J. T. Murray, English Dramatic Companies, i, 253. 

3 ibid., i, 154. 



312 FLEET STREET 

Whitefriars by certain " London Prentices " in 1613 ; and 
Collier quotes a letter from Sir Henry Wootton, under date 
" Tuesday, 1612-13," describing the performance and the way 
it was interrupted — 

On Sunday last, at night, and no longer, some sixteen Apprentices 
(of what sort you shall guess by the rest of the story) having secretly 
learnt a new play, without book, entitled The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 
took up the Whitefriars for their Theatre ; and having invited thither 
(as it should seem) rather their Mistresses than their Masters, who 
were all to enter per bulletine, for a note of distinction from ordinary 
comedians, towards the end of the play, the sheriffs (who by chance 
had heard of it) came in (as they say) and carried some six or seven 
of them to perform the last act at Bridewell ; the rest are fled. 
Now it is strange to hear how sharp-witted the City is, for they will 
needs have Sir John Swinnerton, the Lord Mayor, to be meant by the 
Hog, and the late Lord Treasurer by the Pearl. 

Who knows but that some such performance as this by 
apprentices and mechanics may earlier have suggested to 
Shakespeare the types of Bottom and his associates, whom they 
probably much resembled. 

Field's Woman's a Weathercock was printed in 1612, as the 
title-page states, as it was " acted before the King in Whitehall, 
and divers times privately at the Whitefriars, by the Children 
of Her Majesty's Revels." Other plays known to have been 
staged at Whitefriars are Chapman's Bussy d'Ambois his 
Revenge, printed in 1613, and " often presented at the private 
house in Whitefriars," and the same author's The Widow's 
Tears ; l and to these Mr. Fleay's indomitable industry has 
added Marston's Insatiate Countess, and Beaumont and 
Fletcher's Coxcomb, Knight of the Burning Pestle, and Cupid's 
Revenge. 2 

The burning of the Globe Theatre on Bankside on the 29th 
June, 1613, led to projects for building new theatres. There 
is an entry in the office book of Sir George Buc, Master of the 
Revels : " July 13, 1613, for a licence to erect a new play-house 
in the Whitefriars, etc., £20. " 3 Very likely it was hoped to 
attract across the water the audiences which had frequented 
the Globe, but the rapid reconstruction of that house in the 



1 Genest, History of the Stage, i, 19. 

2 Fleay, London Stage, 203. 

3 Malone, Shakespeare, iii, 52. 




I CTO R I 



Sites of Whitefriars Theatres 



314 



FLEET STREET 



following spring may have upset the plans. At any rate, 
nothing is heard of a new playhouse being built in Whitefriars, 
though Sir George Buc had his fee. The old priory building 
had already fallen into disrepute and decay. It was aban- 
doned by the Queen's Revels company before April, 1614, 
when, with some of Henslow's Prince Charles's men, they 
played, under the name of the Lady Elizabeth's men, at the 
Hope (Paris Garden) ; l and though the last days are somewhat 
vague, its use for stage plays had certainly ceased before 
1616, the year of Shakespeare's death. 2 

These are the meagre annals of the first theatre in 
Whitefriars. 

An interval occurs of fifteen years. The Whitefriars stage 
disappears from the dramatic records. Then, in 1629, a new 
playhouse was built, known henceforward as the Salisbury 
Court Theatre. Its origin, and that of its successor, has been 
clouded in a certain amount of mystery, which is quite 
unnecessary, as the whole matter is disclosed in a judgment 
delivered by the Fire Commissioners, in Clifford's Inn Hall, 
after the Great Fire of London. 3 Edward Sackville, fourth 
Earl of Dorset, on the 6th July, 1629, devised to Richard 
Gunnel and William Blagrave for forty-one and a half years 
at a rental of £100 a year, a piece of land at the lower end of 
Salisbury Court, 140 feet in length and 42 feet in breadth, 
that they at their own charges should erect a playhouse and 
other buildings thereon. Gunnel was a player of the Fortune 
company, and Blagrave became master of the King's Revels. 

The site can be fixed very nearly, because it lay outside 
the garden wall of Dorset House, at the lower end of Salisbury 
Court, with a further boundary at the wall against Water Lane. 
Upon it then stood " the barne " and portion of the " great 



1 Fleay, London Stage, 187. 

a Cunningham (Shakespeare Society Papers, iv, 90) quotes a docu- 
ment said to be at the Chapter House, Westminster, in the case of 
Trevill v. Woodford in the Court of Requests, 18th Charles I, indicating 
that plays were performed in Whitefriars as late as 1621 ; Sir Anthony 
Ashley, landlord of a house there described as the theatre, having 
entered and turned the players out of doors, on pretence that a half 
year's rent was yet unpaid to him. 

1 Add. MS. British Museum, No. 5064, fol. 225. The judgment 
is printed in Shakespeare Society Papers, as above. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 315 

stable " pertaining to the mansion. There the playhouse 
was built, immediately behind, or partly upon, the ground 
now covered by the Salisbury Hotel. There is significance in 
the choice of a spot so closely adjacent to the dwelling of a 
great nobleman for the erection of this new " private " theatre. 
In explanation of the name given to the theatre, it should be 
stated that the open space of Salisbury Square was originally 
the " Great Court " of the bishop's house and manor, and that 
Salisbury Court — which to-day is little more than an entrance 
to the square — ran south from Fleet Street to the Thames, 
the lower portion being now Dorset Street. Though the 
theatres are classed together as the Whitefriars playhouses, 
only the stage in the refectory was actually within the friar's 
precinct, the later houses being built beyond their wall. 

The addition of yet another to the list of London playhouses 
did not escape the attention of two contemporary writers. 

In Howes, edition of 1631, is this entry — 

In the yere one thousand sixe hundred twenty-nine, there was 
builded a new faire Play-house, neer the White -Fryers. And this is 
the seauenteenth stage or common Playhouse which hath beene 
new made within the space of three-score yeres within London and 
the suburbs. 

Prynne, the Puritan, in the Epistle Dedicatory to his 
Histriomastix, 1633, says — 

Two old playhouses (the Fortune and the Red Bull) have lately been 
re-edified and enlarged, and one new one (Whitefriars) erected — the 
multitude of our London playhaunters being so augmented now, that 
all the ancient Devil's chapels (for so the Fathers stile all playhouses) 
being five in number, are not sufficient to contain their troupes, whence 
we see a sixth added to them. 1 

Each of the three " private " theatres existing at this time 
illustrates the connection between them and the superseded 
custom of presenting plays in the private dwellings of the great. 
The Blackfriars Theatre was constructed out of the old 
office of the Master of the Revels, and was surrounded by the 
houses of noblemen. The Cockpit in Drury Lane, another 
" private " theatre, stood where lived Secretary Windebank, 
Lord Montague, the Earl of Cleveland " and divers other 
persons of quality," who joined in a protest against a tavern 
being opened in association with the theatre, as tending to 



1 Prynne omits a seventh, the Blackfriars, 



316 FLEET STREET 

disquiet the neighbourhood. 1 That Whitefriars had other 
aristocratic inhabitants besides the Earls of Dorset I have 
already shown ; and there is the further fact that Sir Henry 
Herbert, Master of the Revels, was one of the proprietors of the 
Salisbury Court Theatre, or at least was allowed a ninth 
share of the receipts. 2 

There is no reliable information as to the theatre itself : 
Collier suggested that, like the Globe, it was round, because 
of the following lines by Richard Woodfall in praise of Lewis 
Sharpe's Noble Stranger (1640) acted at " the private house in 
Salisbury Court " — 

Nor can she, had she robb'd the fluent store 
Of Donne's wise genius, make thy merits more : 
No, 'tis thy own smooth numbers must prefer 
Thy Stranger to the Globe-like theatre. 

— but this deduction seems rather far-fetched. 

What constituted the distinction between a " private " 
and public playhouse is still a point in dispute. Partly it may 
have been found in the building, the public, or " common," 
playhouse being open to the sky, and performances necessarily 
taking place in daylight, while the private theatre was cus- 
tomarily roofed over. The latter was also smaller. In both 
plays were staged in the afternoon, though they were occasion- 
ally, at any rate, acted by artificial light in the private houses, 
the windows being covered over. Instead of the yard, with 
standing spectators — the " groundlings " — there was a pit, 
with seats. There seems, moreover, to have been a marked 
difference in the class of audience and the character of the plays 
presented. 

Mr. Child holds that performances at " private " playhouses 
may be taken to have approximated to those at universities, 
Inns of Court, and at Court, in aiming at more refined audiences 
than did the public playhouse — though too much stress should 
not be laid on this supposition. Noblemen, ambassadors, 
and other great people attended at the public playhouses ; 
but while it is on record that Elizabeth went to the Blackfriars, 
the Queen is not known to have visited the Globe. 8 At the 

1 T. Fairman Ordish, The Antiquary, xvi, 245. 

a Collier, Dramatic Poetry, iii, 294 n. 

* Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Literature, vi, 270. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 317 

public theatre the commonalty formed a noisy and unruly 
audience, romping, smoking, nut-cracking, drinking, and 
playing at cards, and they expected a show with plenty of 
adventure, liveliness, and broad humour. The Elizabethan 
Stage Society of to-day is at great pains to reconstruct the 
contemporary stage, but the realism can never be complete 
until we have as well the motley crowd which filled the audi- 
torium, and that was as far as the poles asunder from the 
serious audiences whom the society attracts. 

The noisy element certainly was not wanting at the " pri- 
vate " playhouses like the Salisbury Court Theatre, but these 
were more particularly the resorts of men of wealth and noble 
birth, while the gallants enjoyed the privilege of displaying 
themselves and their finery while lying, or sitting on stools, 
upon the stage itself. A key to the difference between the 
two audiences is given in Shirley's prologue to The Doubtful 
Heir (1640), a play written for the Blackfriars, but for some 
reason produced at the Globe — 

No shew, no dance, and what you most delight in, 
Grave undertakers, here's no target fighting . . . 
No clown, no squibs, no devil in't. . . . 
But you that can content yourself and sit 
As you were now in the Blackfriars pit, 
But will not deafen us with loud noise and tongues, 
Because we have no heart to break our lungs, 
Will pardon our vast stage, and not disgrace 
The play meant for your persons, not your place. 

" Grave undertakers " are in this case the groundlings, and 
the apology for " our vast stage " is made to those more 
familiar with the Blackfriars theatre. Wright's Historia 
Histrionica (1699) contains a dialogue on " The Second Gene- 
ration of English professional Actors, 1625-1670," with these 
passages — 

What kind of Playhouses had they before the wars ? 

Truman. — The Blackfriars, Cockpit, and Salisbury Court were 
called Private Houses, and were very small to what we see now. The 
Cockpit was standing since the Restoration, and Rhodes' Company 
acted there for some time. 

Lovewit. — I have seen that. 

Truman. — Then you have seen the other two in effect, for they 
were all three built almost exactly alike, for form and bigness. Here 
they had " Pits " for the gentry, and acted by candlelight. The 
Globe, Fortune, and Bull were large houses, and lay partly open to 
the weather, and there they always acted by daylight. 



318 FLEET STREET 

The first performers at the Salisbury Court Theatre of whom 
we hear were a new King's Revels company. They produced 
Shirley's Changes : or Love in a Maze, which on the 10th 
January, 1632, was licensed for the Company of His Majesty's 
Revels at Salisbury Court. Prince Charles — afterwards King 
Charles the Second — was born on the 29th May, 1630, and when 
the Royal infant was but eighteen months old, the Palsgrave's 
company seems to have passed under his patronage ; they 
disappear under that name, and Andrew and Robert Fowler, 
members of the company, appear in the first approximately 
complete list of the Prince's men. Marmyon's Holland's 
Leaguer was played by them before the 26th January, 1632, 
on which date it is entered as having been " lately and often 
acted " by Prince Charles's men at Salisbury Court Theatre. * 
They had already displaced the King's Revels. According to 
Sir Henry Herbert's " Office-Book," which dates the production 
in December, 1631, the play met with what was considered 
extraordinary success, having been acted for six days in 
succession. 2 

Holland's Leaguer contains in the Prologue some references 
to the Salisbury Court Theatre in relation to other contemporary 
playhouses — 

Gentle spectators that with graceful eye 

Come to behold the Muse's colony, 

New planted in this soil, forsook of late 

By the inhabitants, since made fortunate 

By more propitious stars ; though on each hand 

To overtop us two great laurels stand, 

The one, when she shall please to spread her train, 

The vastness of the Globe cannot contain ; 

Th'other so high, the Phcenix 3 does aspire 

To build in, and takes new life from the fire 

Bright Poesie creates ; yet we partake 

The influence they boast of, which does make 

Our bays to flourish, and the leaves to spring, 

That in our branches now new poets sing. 

And when with joy he shall see this resort. 

Phoebus shall not disdain to stile't his Court. 

Mr. Murray considers that " the Prince's men most likely 



1 Murray, Dramatic Companies, i, 219. 

2 T. Fairman Ordish, The Antiquary, xvi, 245. 

8 Another name for the Cockpit in Drury Lane. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 319 

came from the Fortune, for many years the home of the Pals- 
grave company. The cause for this exchange of theatres is 
doubtful. From the Prologue and Epilogue to Shirley's 
Changes it is evident that the Revels company had not been 
successful at Salisbury Court, but hoped that Shirley's fame 
would bring them success. Judging by the reference to them 
in the Prologue of Holland's Leaguer as 

since made fortunate, 
By more propitious stars, 

this was the case, and if so may have been the cause of their 
moving into the Fortune, which, being a public theatre, was 
no doubt considerably larger than Salisbury Court, a private 
theatre." 1 

It is thought likely by Mr. Fleay that Randolph (Ben 
Jonson's young friend) was manager for Prince Charles's men 
acting at the Salisbury Court in 1632-3, and that his dramatic 
masterpiece, The Muses Looking-Glasse, was presented there 
near the end of 1632. The company did not stay long, for 
when Prince Charles set out on a " progress " to Scotland, in 
May, 1633, the Prince's men accompanied him. They obtained 
a new licence ; on the 3rd November, 1635, when they visited 
Norwich, Joseph More presented " an Instrument signed by 
his Ma tie and under his Ma ties privie signett authorisinge 
Andrew Kayne, Elis Worth, and others to play Comedies in 
Salisbury Court and otherwhere w^in five miles of London 
and in all other cities, etc." 2 

Afterwards the King's Revels company returned to Salisbury 
Court, where, in 1635, they acted Richard Brome's TheSpargus 
Garden. We hear of them once on their travels. They seem 
to have taken a true passport, but assumed false names, for 
on the 6th May, 1633, the Mayor of Banbury and two justices 
wrote to the Privy Council that they had imprisoned six 
players as wandering rogues, supposing their Patent from the 
King and commission from the Master of the Revels to be 
forged. 3 The Privy Council sent for the men. They were 
liberated on bond, and thereafter acted in Whitefriars. 

The company, too, appeared at Court. Richard Heton 

1 Murray, Dramatic Companies, i, 220. 

2 ibid., p. 221. 

3 Fleay, London Stage, 331. 



320 FLEET STREET 

received £50 for three plays by the Salisbury Court players 
for the King's pleasure in October and February, 1635-6. 
Two of the performances were at Hampton Court, for which 
£40 was paid, and one at St. James's, the Royal fee being then 
£10. * A curious incident associated with the performances 
in the theatre Malone cites from Sir Henry Herbert's manu- 
script book : "I committed Cromes, a broker in Longe Lane, 
the 16th of February, 1634, to the Marsalsey, for lending a 
church robe with the name of Jesus upon it to the players in 
Salisbury Court, to present a Flamen, a priest of the heathens. 
Upon his petition of submission, and acknowledgment of his 
fault, I released him, the 17th Febu., 1634." 

Plague, visiting London with terrible severity, again 
interrupted the stage : from the 10th May, 1636, until October 
next year, with the exception of a single week, all the theatres 
were closed. When they reopened on the 2nd October, 1637, 
the Salisbury Court Theatre was occupied by players named 
the Queen's servants, formed out of the King's Revels' and 
the older Queen's companies. This is known from an entry 
in Herbert's Office-Book : " I disposed of Perkins, Sumner, 
Sherlock, and Turner to Salisbury Court, and joynd them to 
the rest of that company." All four were until 1636 Queen's 
players. 

Lovelace's lost comedy, The Scholar, was staged at the 
Salisbury Court Theatre, having had a successful production 
at Oxford. 

Davenant, before the tide of Puritanism overwhelmed the 
stage, had obtained a patent in 1639 to erect a theatre forty 
yards square " at the most " in St. Dunstan's parish, or St. 
Bride's, at a place to be assigned by the Commissioners of 
Buildings, and to take such moneys as was accustomed in 
such cases. 2 Nothing came of the project, and in 1662 the 
patentee resigned his right on obtaining a new patent, under 
which he built at Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

Worse consequences even than the plague brought them 
soon befell the players. The Puritan Parliament in September, 
1642, declaring that " public sports do not agree with public 
calamities, nor public stage-plays with seasons of humiliation," 



1 Murray, Dramatic Companies, i, 282. 

2 State Papers (Domestic), 1639, Mar. 25. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 321 

decreed that all dramatic performances should cease. The 
ordinance was carried out with great severity. A few furtive 
attempts were made to keep the theatre alive, and there is 
a record, attributed to 1647, that while Beaumont and 
Fletcher's A King and No King was being acted at Salisbury 
Court, the sheriffs of London interrupted the performance, 
and took " Tim Reade the Fool " into custody. x This may 
have occurred in 1644 (Collier gives both dates) ; but late as 
August, 1647, the stage in Whitefriars survived, and complaint 
being made to Parliament of players acting plays publicly in 
Salisbury Court, the House ordered the justices speedily 
to suppress them. a The theatre underwent almost complete 
eclipse until the Restoration. In February, 1648, it was 
directed by Parliament that all theatres should be dismantled, 
and all actors of plays, even in private, publicly whipped, the 
audience being individually fined five shillings. As some 
unfortunate players were giving a performance of Fletcher's 
Bloody Brother at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, a party of 
soldiers burst in and carried them off to prison, dressed as they 
were in sock and buskin. 

Collier quotes from manuscript notes by Howes this luminous 
passage — 

The Playhouse in Salisbury Court, in Flete Strete, was pulled down 
by a company of souldiers, set on by the Sectaries of these sad times, 
on Saturday, the 24th day of March, 1649. » 

The playhouse had passed by assignment to William Beeston, 
a player, in 1647, and — whether standing or a ruin — remained 
thenceforward in his possession, though not until the Restora- 
tion could the theatre be reopened. There were portents that 
foretold a period of awakened activity for the stage. On the 
5th April, 1660, twenty days before Charles the Second landed 
at Dover, Beeston made a contract for rebuilding the house ; 
the cost was £329, 4 and it was run up very quickly, being 



1 Collier, Dramatic Poetry, ii, 37-40. 

a Perfect Occurrences or Every Day Journal in Parliament, etc., 
No. 32, 6 to 13 Aug., 1647. 

3 Collier's Life of Shakespeare, p. ccxlii. 

4 Add. MS. British Museum, No. 5064, fol. 225. William Beeston 
had been governor of companies playing at the Cockpit, Drury Lane, 
and is commended by Francis Kirkman in a printed dedication 
as " the best interpreter and judge of our English stage plays." 

21 — (2246) 



322 FLEET STREET 

probably a wooden structure. Players resorted there even 
before the King's pleasure was known. There is in the State 
Papers of the 20th August, 1660, a letter from Whitehall order- 
ing the rigorous suppression, under heavy penalties, of com- 
panies that had assembled at the Red Bull playhouse, St. 
John Street, at the Cockpit, Drury Lane, and at another 
playhouse in Salisbury Court, and there performed profane 
and obscene plays. The Rump, a comedy by Tatham, was 
acted at Whitefriars soon after the Restoration, and Davenant's 
company played at Salisbury Court until their new house in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields was ready to receive them. 

Pepys, that inveterate playgoer, was a frequent visitor 
to the Salisbury Court Theatre in 1661 ; his diary tells of three 
visits in a single week. Especially he admired Better ton's 
acting — 

March 1 (1661). — To Whitefriars, and saw The Bondman acted; 
an excellent play, and well done. But above all that I ever saw, 
Betterton do the Bondman the best. 

March 19. — Mr. Creed and I to Whitefriars, where we saw The 
Bondman acted most excellently, and though I have seen it often, 
yet I am every time more and more pleased with Betterton's action. 

November 4. — With my wife to the Opera, where we saw The Bond- 
man, which of old we both did so dote on, and do still ; though to both our 
thinking not so well acted here, having too great expectations, as 
formerly at Salisbury Court. But for Betterton, he is called by us 
both the best actor in the world. 

Some other notes by Pepys I give below ; the diary is an 
inexhaustible fund of interest. 

Feb. 12 (1661). — By water to Salisbury Court playhouse, where, 
not liking to sit, we went out again, and by coach to the theatre, and 
there saw The Scornful Lady, now done by a woman, which makes 
the play appear much better than ever it did to me. 

March 2. — After dinner I went to the theatre, where I found so few 
people (which is strange, and the reason I do not know) that I went 
out again, and so to Salisbury Court, where the house as full as could 
be ; and it seems it was a new play, The Queen's Masque, 1 wherein 
there are some good humours ; among others, a good jeer at the old 
story of the siege of Troy, making it to be a common country tale. 
But above all it was strange to see so little a boy as that was to act 
Cupid, which is one of the greatest parts of it. * 

March 16. — To Whitefriars, and there saw The Spanish Curate, 2 
in which I had no great content. 

1 T. Heywood's Love's Mistress ; or the Queen's Masque. 
1 Beaumont and Fletcher. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 323 

March 25. — I and Captain Ferrers to Salisbury Court by water, 
and saw part of The Queen's Mask. 

April 2. — So to Whitefriars, and saw The Little Thief, x which is a very 
merry and pretty play, and the little boy do very well. 

Sept. 9. — To Salisbury Court playhouse, where was acted the first 
time 'Tis pity she's a Whore, 2 a simple play, and ill acted, only it 
was my fortune to sit by a most pretty and ingenious lady, which 
pleased me much. 

Pepys's dramatic reminiscences after 1661 relate mostly to 
the Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Davenant, 
late in the autumn of that year, took Betterton and the rest of 
the company. The Great Fire of London burnt down the 
Salisbury Court Theatre, which was not rebuilt ; and the 
gossip's troubled eyesight caused him to abandon the diary 
before the Whitefriars stage, after temporary eclipse, took for 
a brief period of glorious life a pre-eminent place in the annals 
of the English theatre. It stood almost alone. From 1671 
to 1682 the prestige of its company of actors and the importance 
of its productions rivalled, and for a time overshadowed, the 
Theatre Royal (Drury Lane). 

By the riverside a new playhouse was erected, bearing the 
name of the Dorset Garden Theatre, from the fact that it stood 
where had been the gardens of the Earl of Dorset's town 
mansion. Betterton returned there from Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, riper in stage experience, at the height of his brilliant 
career. Sir Christopher Wren designed the house. If not the 
largest, there is much to indicate that the theatre once more 
restored to Whitefriars was the finest playhouse of its day. 
Dry den, though afterwards its severest critic, wrote for the 
Dorset Garden stage. Its scenery and appointments were 
lavish beyond anything then known. It had approaches 
both by land and water ; and the Thames remained down the 
Stuart age a crowded London highway. Yet despite all 
advantages there came the misfortune that always attended the 
theatre in Whitefriars, of which this broken record has borne 
ample witness. The Dorset Garden Theatre, after some fifteen 
years, lost all reputation ; its last resort was that of strong 



1 John Fletcher's The Night Walker ; or The Little Thief. 

2 By John Ford. 



324 FLEET STREET 

men, jugglers, wild beast trainers, and others with performances 
more befitting a country fair. 

Expense was not spared by the subscribers, Sir William 
Davenant being at their head. They were called Adventurers, 
and they seem very early to have taken fright at the cost. The 
theatre front is shown in a drawing preserved in the Pepysian 
Library at Cambridge, here reproduced from Wilkinson's 
Londina. I have, besides, obtained a view of the river aspect 
from The Encyclopedia Londinensis. The ample stage and 
proscenium are shown in Settle's Empress of Morocco, printed 
in 1673, after its production at Dorset Garden — the first printed 
play to contain woodcuts. Davenant called his troupe the 
Duke of York's company (King Charles's brother, afterwards 
James the Second) to distinguish it from Killigrew's the King's 
company, acting in Drury Lane, and after they had moved 
from Lincoln's Inn Fields their new house was commonly 
referred to as The Duke's Theatre ; hence a confusion which 
has led various writers incorrectly to assume that the view 
given with Settle's play is that of the Lincoln's Inn stage. 

Davenant had obtained his patent to build as early as 1663, 
but he did not live to see the house erected. (It was a base- 
less scandal he was content should pass as currency that 
he was more than a poetic child of Shakespeare.) He died 
in 1668, and on the 9th November, 1671, the Duke's company, 
with Betterton and Harris, under the nominal management 
of the widowed Lady Davenant and her son, Charles Davenant, 
opened the Dorset Garden Theatre with a performance of 
Dryden's Sir Martin Mar-all. The title part was accounted 
one of Betterton's finest characters. Nokes, Cademan, Lillis- 
ton, Mrs. Jennings, and Mrs. Saunderson were also in the 
company. The opening was auspicious (as theatrical success 
was counted on the Restoration stage) the play being repeated 
three days together, with full audiences each day, although it 
had previously been acted on thirty occasions at Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, and above four times at Court. * 

There is an allusion to the situation of the new house in 
the Prologue to Wycherley's Gentleman Dancing Master, 
spoken at the Dorset Garden Theatre — 



1 Downes, Roscius Anglicanus. 




From Wilkinson's " Londina Illustrate/," 

DORSET GARDEN THEATRE, LAND FRONT 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 325 

Our Author (like us) finding 'twould scarce do, 
At t'other end o' th' town, is come to you, 
And since 'tis his last tryal, has the wit 
To throw himself on a substantial pit ; 
Where needy Wit, or Critick dare not come ; 
Lest neighbour i' the cloak with looks so glum, 
Shou'd prove a Dun ; 

Where Punk in visor dare not rant and tear, 
To put us out, since Bridewell is so near. 

Dorset Garden Theatre during its occupancy by Davenant's 
company is very well known, thanks principally to Downes, 
whose Roscius Anglicanus, though not free from errors, is 
indispensable for the contemporary stage from 1666 to 1703. 
Downes frankly records the failure of his own attempt as an 
actor, but he continued to be prompter until October, 1706, 
and was from the first conversant with the plays and actors of 
the original company under Davenant's patent. Genest's 
exhaustive work on the Patent Theatres is another valuable 
source. It is said by Downes to have been the custom to act 
several old stock plays between new productions, the Gentleman 
Dancing Master, staged in 1672, being the third new play 
acted at the Dorset Garden Theatre. Wycherley's comedy 
was not much liked, and was given only six performances. 

Dryden, although a shareholder in the rival Theatre Royal, 
where most of his early plays were produced, wrote for the 
Dorset Garden Theatre in 1678 his comedy, Limberham : or the 
Kind Keeper. It was damned — " and deserved to be," adds 
Professor Saintsbury. Langbaine (Dramatic Poets) says it 
so much exposed the keeping part of the town that the play 
was stopped when it had but thrice appeared on the stage, and 
he quotes a rhyming explanation of the storm it brewed — 

Dryden, good man, thought keepers to reclaim, 
Writ a kind Satire, call'd it Limberham. 
This all the herd of keepers straight alarms, 
From Charing Cross to Bow was up in arms ; 
They damn'd the play all at one fatal blow, 
And broke the Glasse that did their picture show. 

The dramatist himself, in his dedication of the printed 
play to Lord Vaughan, declares " the crime for which it 
suffered was that which is objected to the Satires of Juvenal 
and the Epigrams of Catullus, that it expressed too much of 
the vice it decried. . . I will be bold enough to say that this 
comedy is of the first rank of those that I have written, and that 



326 FLEET STREET 

Posterity will be of my opinion." The appeal to posterity 
fails. The play is filthy stuff. 

In the following year Dryden collaborated with Lee in writing 
the tragedy of (Edipus, also produced at Dorset Garden. 
Betterton played (Edipus, Mrs. Betterton was Jocasta, and 
Smith, Sandford, Harris, Williams, Gillow, Mrs. Lee, and Mrs. 
Evans were in the cast. An actress was as necessarily " Mrs." 
in those days, as in the playbills of to-day she is " Miss." 
Dowries says the play was admirably well acted, especially in 
the parts of (Edipus and Jocasta ; " it took prodigiously, being 
acted ten days together." 

An adaptation of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida fol- 
lowed in the same year : many worse outrages have been 
committed upon Shakespeare by less sympathetic hands. 
Dryden's brief association with the Dorset Garden Theatre 
closed with The Spanish Friar, his last play for many years ; 
a clever, witty, admirable piece of work. Its principal char- 
acter owes a good deal to Falstaff. Downes admits the 
excellent quality of the acting, and says the piece produced 
vast profit to the company. 

Otway, Shadwell, Mrs. Alpha Behn, Ravenscroft, the Earl 
of Orrery, Crowne, and many others are associated with the 
Dorset Garden stage. Otway, particularly, is closely identified, 
for all his plays except his last, The Atheist, were produced 
there. He trod the boards — his first and only appearance 
as an actor. Fresh from College, and ambitious for fame, 
Otway persuaded Mrs. Behn to entrust him with the small part 
of the King in her Forc'd Marriage, acted in 1671, but not being 
used to the theatre, " the full house put him to such a sweat 
and tremulous agony [that] being dash't, spoilt him for an 
actor." 1 

His earliest dramatic effort, Alcibiades (1675), a rhymed 
tragedy, gave little promise of the genius that flashes out in 
Don Carlos, Prince of Spain, licensed on the 15th June of the 
following year for the Dorset Garden Theatre, and the more 
mature Venice Preserved, produced there in 1682. Mr. Roden 
Noel holds that this last great tragedy is surpassed in the 
modern world only by Shakespeare. 2 Otway went to the same 

1 Downes, Roscius Anglicanus. 

2 Mermaid Series, Thomas Otway, p. 10. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 327 

source as Schiller for Don Carlos, namely, the narrative of the 
Abbe* Saint-Real, and comparison of the two plays is interesting 
as showing the different methods in which the figure of Philip 
the Second of Spain is drawn : by Schiller a cold, cruel, am- 
bitious bigot, incapable of natural affection ; by Otway more 
as the conventional stage tyrant, capable amid all his violence 
of displaying exquisite tenderness for the Queen and his son. 

Betterton played King Philip ; and afterwards he told Booth 
that Don Carlos was infinitely more applauded than either 
Otway's The Orphan or Venice Preserved. Smith played the 
character of Don Carlos, and Mrs. Lee The Queen of Spain. 
All the parts were admirably acted, says Downes ; the piece 
" got more money than any preceding tragedy." It was 
repeated on ten consecutive nights, and often revived. 

Venice Preserved, with which Otway's association with the 
Dorset Garden Theatre closed, is his greatest play ; and more — 
it is the greatest tragedy of its age. The story is that of 
the Spanish conspiracy against the Republic of Venice in 1618, 
but Otway, with a true sense of stage requirements, has given 
to the tragedy all its dramatic merit. Belvidera is a new 
character. Daughter of Priuli, a Senator of Venice, she has 
been disowned by her implacable father because of her marriage 
with Jaffier, a poor man — Jaffier smarts under Priuli's threats 
— meditating revenge, he is persuaded by his closest friend, 
Pierre, to join a conspiracy which aims at the assassination of 
all the Senators — Jaffier, weak, affectionate, impulsive, is led 
to confide the secret of the plot to his wife — her frenzied 
appeals to him to save her father goad him into betraying the 
conspiracy to the Doge, and sacrificing his dearest friend. 
He is brought face to face with Pierre, and there is a tremendous 
scene where he abjectly implores Pierre for pardon, only to be 
spurned and flung from him. 

False to the oath they have made to Jaffier to spare the 
lives of his coadjutors, the Senate condemn the rebels to death 
by torture — he learns this from Belvidera, and in his helpless 
rage is about to kill her for having incited him to compass 
the ruin of his beloved friend, but love for his adored wife 
turns him from his purpose, and he bids her go to her father 
and beg the life of Pierre — the old man relents at the sight 
of his daughter kneeling in agony before him, but his intercession 
is too late — Pierre comes on the scaffold — Jaffier, forgiven 



328 FLEET STREET 

by Pierre, is permitted a final leave-taking, and at his friend's 
request stabs him to save him the dishonour of public torture, 
and immediately after stabs himself. — Belvidera, distracted, 
sees the apparitions of Jamer and Pierre rise bleeding — when 
they sink, she vows passionately that she will dig till she find 
them ; and imagining that they are drawing her downward, 
she dies. 

This is tragedy in the gtand manner. Otway's blank verse 
is in parts very fine, but one is left tantalisingly to wonder 
what Shakespeare would have done with such material. The 
play has been translated into and acted in almost every 
Continental tongue. Perhaps some day the stage of George 
the Fifth will awaken to the possibilities of a revival of Venice 
Preserved. 

The criticisms upon the tragedy have passed into our English 
classics. Hazlitt has written of " the awful suspense of the 
situations ; the conflict of duty and passion ; the intimate 
bonds that unite the characters together that are violently 
rent asunder like the parting of soul and body ; the solemn 
march of tragical events to the fatal catastrophe that winds 
up and closes over all." Sir Walter Scott declared that 
" More tears have been shed, probably, for the sorrows of 
Belvidera and Monimia (The Orphan) than for those of Juliet 
and Desdemona." 

Otway's The Orphan : or The Unhappy Marriage, was brought 
out at the Dorset Garden Theatre in 1680. In the character 
of Monimia, acted with consummate power and tenderness 
by the famous Mrs. Barry, he has created one of the most 
pathetic of stage heroines. Like others of Otway's best dramas, 
this is a tragedy of passionate love, the incident turning upon 
the want of moral courage shown by Castalio (Betterton) the 
weak son of a powerful noble, in concealing his deep and 
honourable love for the orphan girl whom he has secretly 
married. Mrs. Bracegirdle appeared in the play as a pert 
page, when a child of six. In comedy Otway tried his hand 
with less success ; The Cheats of Scapin and other like efforts 
are now forgotten. The Cheats, being short, was produced 
the same night in 1677 with the author's Titus and Berenico, 
a tragedy, to make a full bill. 

A bare reference to the stormy life and pitiful death of 
the young poet whose fame is so closely identified with the 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 329 

Dorset Garden Theatre will not be misplaced. Otway was cut 
off at the early age of thirty-three. Patronised by Rochester 
and men of rank and fashion, with whom he squandered his 
money and got deeply into debt, he was dropped by them as 
soon as his importunities became unpleasant. He fell deeply 
in love with Mrs. Barry, the creator upon the stage of sub- 
stantially all his tragedy queens. She coquetted with him, 
gave him no real encouragement, and rejected him. Despe- 
rate, he joined the army in Flanders ; his soldiering profited 
him when writing The Soldier s Fortune (Dorset Garden 
Theatre, 1681). Hopeless in his passion, he gave way to 
dissipation. The manner of his end is uncertain, but there is 
probability in the story that, starving and weak, he choked 
himself when devouring, in an obscure tavern on Tower Hill, 
a roll of bread bought from the charity of a stranger to whom 
he disclosed his want. Otway lies in an unknown grave in St. 
Clement Danes Church. 

With others I must be brief, lest with so many changes, 
when a run of ten nights with a new play was counted pro- 
digious success, patience be exhausted. Lord Orrery was 
among the playwrights, and a comedy of his, Mr. Anthony 

(1671) which Downes says took " but indifferent," and a 
tragedy, Mustapha (1673) were produced at the Dorset Garden 
Theatre. King Charles the Second on landing in England 
made Lord Broghill Earl of Orrery. His lordship requited 
the attention by introducing the most sublime sentiments 
of divine right into his plays. In Tryphon he says — 

We ought when Heav'n's Vicegerent does a crime 
To leave to Heav'n the right to punish him. 
Those who for wrongs their Monarch's murder act, 
Worse sins than they can punish, they contract. 

His lordship's plays were " but indifferent." 

Shadwell's bustling Squire of Alsatia, which might so fittingly 
have been produced here, at Alsatia's very door, was brought 
out at the Theatre Royal in 1688, but several of his plays were 
introduced from the Dorset Garden stage. Epsom Wells 

(1672) was one of the most successful. It is an amusing 
comedy of life at a fashionable spa, before Epsom's glories 
were eclipsed by Tunbridge Wells, or it had attained after fame 
as a racing resort. Downes says in his naive way that Mrs. 
Johnson, as Carolina in this play, " danced a Jig so charmingly, 



330 FLEET STREET 

that Love's power soon after coerced her to dance elsewhere " 
— and she was lost to the company. Psyche came out in Febru- 
ary, 1674. The " opera/' so-called, was splendidly set out with 
new scenes, machines, dresses, and French dances, the cost of 
the scenery alone being above £800 — a colossal sum for 
mounting a play in those days. 

The Libertine, with which Shadwell found great favour 
with Dorset Garden audiences two years later, is a very san- 
guinary play. Don Juan, the Libertine, in a scene in a church 
wherein is a statue of Don Pedro on horseback, forces Jacome, 
his servant, to invite the statue to supper. The statue nods 
his head, and comes. In the last act the ghosts of all those 
whom Don Juan has murdered appear — the statue descends 
from his horse — Don Juan insists on having wine — the statue 
gives him and his friends glasses full of blood — Don Juan and 
his friends are carried away by devils. 

It is the earliest English version. of note of the great Don 
Juan legend. Shadwell declares that no act cost him more 
than five days in writing, and the theatre having great need 
of a play, the last two acts were both written in four days. x 
Betterton's performance of Don Juan, says Downes, crowned 
the play. 

I have spoken of Dry den's adaptation of Troilus and 
Cressida. It was a curious obsession of the Restoration stage 
that Shakespeare was an archaic person, whose plays must be 
redrafted and rewritten to be acceptable to the modern 
audience. Many dramatists — bad and indifferent — tried their 
hands upon them. Shadwell so dealt with Timon of Athens 
(Dorset Garden Theatre, 1678) and in his dedication boasts that 
he has made the history of Timon into a play ! It pleased the 
Court and the city. 2 The most daring perversion of this sort 
was by Charles Davenant, who ruthlessly butchered Macbeth 
for production at his theatre in 1672. Scarcely six lines stand 
together in which some wanton change has not been made. 
Davenant lengthens the parts of Macduff and Lady Macduff 
(played by Harris and Mrs. Long) with much insipid stuff of 
his own, cuts out Lady Macbeth's last two speeches in Act 5, 
omits " my way of life," and gives Macbeth but a single line as 

1 Genest, English Stage, i, 187. 

2 Downes, Roscius Anglicanus. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 331 

a dying speech. The cuts, if injudicious, might be condoned, but 
the spectacle of Charles Davenant re-writing Shakespeare might 
well have caused the gods of literature to flee incontinently 
from Parnassus. 

Indeed, there was no reverence in the times. The Tempest, 
staged as an opera by Betterton at the Dorset Garden Theatre 
in 1673, was such a triumphant success that the rival Theatre 
Royal was moved to go one better, and founded upon Shake- 
speare a farce, The Mock Tempest. These are the lines of Ariel's 
song, " Where the bee sucks, there suck I " — 

Where good ale is, there suck I, 

In a Cobbler's stall I lie, 

While the Watch are passing by ; 

Then about the streets I fly ; 

After Cullies merrily : 

And I merrily, merrily take up my clo'se, 

Under the Watch, and the Constable's nose. 

The sparkling comedies of that busy playwright, Mrs. Aphra 
Behn, were staged at the Dorset Garden Theatre during the 
most strenuous years of her career. You cannot withhold 
admiration for her industry. Genest lists nine of her plays 
first introduced to a Whitefriars audience ; two in her first 
year. She was the first woman in England to live by her pen. 
She aimed at writing like a man, and rinding a licentious stage, 
so accepted it. The startling indecency of her comedies has no 
other explanation, for her own life was blameless. And she 
was ingenuous, too ; when outcry was raised against her 
grossness, she " wondered at the impudence of any of her sex 
who would pretend to an opinion in such a matter." 

She borrowed plots and characters wholesale, but had a 
good sense of the stage, and most of her borrowings she 
improved, introducing so much bustle and incident that all her 
plays were supreme in the quality of "go." The Rover : or the 
Banished Cavalier, produced at Dorset Garden anonymously 
in 1677, was her greatest success, and took the town by storm. 
The Duke of York brought a Royal party to see the comedy. 

The City Heiress (1681) should play well, but is too gross for 
modern ears. 

" The play's the thing," and, like our dramatic critics, I 
have left the acting to the last. For all that counts, the 
history of the Dorset Garden Theatre is that of the years 1671- 
1682, and during the whole of that time Betterton was its star. 



332 FLEET STREET 

The comparison with Garrick, though inevitable, is futile. 
Some think him greater ; some less ; the actor's art is evan- 
escent, and none can tell. All agree that he was unapproached 
in his day. Colley Cibber says that " Betterton was an actor as 
Shakespeare was an author, but without competitors." He 
had not a good stage figure ; " a great head, a short neck, 
stoop'd in the shoulders, a corpulent body ; little eyes, the 
broad face a little pock-fretten." Two appreciations shall 
suffice. * The first is by the writer of A Lick at the Laureate, 
1730— 

I have lately been told by a gentleman who has frequently seen 
Betterton 's Hamlet 2 that he observed his countenance, which was 
naturally ruddy and sanguine, in the scene of the third act, when his 
father's ghost appears, through the violent and sudden emotion of 
amazement and horror turn instantly, on the sight of his father's spirit, 
as pale as his neckcloth, when his whole body seemed to be affected 
with a tremor inexpressible ; so that had his father's ghost actually 
risen before him, he could not have been seized with more real agonies. 
And this was felt so strongly by the audience, that the blood seemed 
to shudder in their veins likewise, and they, in some measure, partook 
of the astonishment and horror with which they saw this excellent actor 
affected. 

The other is by Steele, in The Tatler, No. 167, giving an 
account of Betterton 's funeral — 

I have hardly a notion that any performance of antiquity could 
surpass the action of Mr. Betterton in any of the occasions on which he 
has appeared on our stage. The wonderful agony which he appeared 
in when he examined the circumstance of the handkerchief in Othello ; 
the mixture of love that intruded upon his mind, upon the innocent 
answers Desdemona makes, betrayed in his gesture such a variety 
and vicissitude of passions as would admonish a man to be afraid 
of his own heart, and perfectly convince him that it is to stab it, to 
admit that worst of daggers, jealousy. Whoever reads in his closet 
this admirable scene will find that he cannot, except he has as warm 
an imagination as Shakespeare himself, find any but dry, incoherent, 
and broken sentences ; but a reader that has seen Betterton act 
it observes there could not be a word added, that longer speeches 
had been unnatural, nay, impossible, in Othello's circumstances. 

Betterton was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey ; 



1 My debt is to the late Mr. Joseph Knight in the Dictionary of 
National Biography. 

2 Staged at Dorset Garden Theatre in 1673, with Mrs. Betterton 
as Ophelia, Smith as Horatio, Nokes as Polonius, and Mrs. Shad well 
as the Queen. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 333 

and there, too, lies Mrs. Aphra Behn, whose name may still be 
read on her black marble slab. 

Mrs. Barry did not join the Duke's company at Dorset 
Garden until 1673. Her first appearances had been abject 
failure, and the story runs that the Earl of Rochester, with 
unerring judgment, wagered a large sum that he would within 
six months make her one of the most approved actresses of the 
contemporary stage. 

Was she pretty ? Accounts vary. There is Sir Godfrey 
Kneller's portrait of her, with the speaking eyes. Aston 
says she was not handsome, and was " indifferent plump." 
Many have thought that Hamilton (Memoirs of Count 
Grammont) refers to her when saying that the public was 
obliged to Rochester " for the prettiest but at the same time 
the worst actress in the kingdom." The " worst " here cannot 
be intended for her acting, for as the creator of the principal 
stage-heroines of two decades, with command of every passion 
— " love, joy, grief, rage, tenderness, and jealousy, with equal 
skill and equal effect " — she stood alone, unquestionably the 
greatest actress of her day. Witchery there was in the woman, 
though she was greedy and mercenary. Her influence over 
poor Otway was entirely evil. She was Rochester's mistress, 
and he made provision for his child by her ; Sir George Etherege, 
who wrote the prologue with which the Dorset Garden Theatre 
opened, acknowledged the paternity of another child. But 
on the stage she was incomparable. 

Betterton's testimony is convincing, that her acting gave 
success to plays that would disgust the most patient reader. 
Colley Cibber gives this portrait of the tragedy queen — 

Mrs. Barry, in characters of greatness, had a presence of elevated 
dignity, her mien and motion superb and gracefully majestic ; her 
voice full, clear, and strong, so that no violence of passion could be 
too much for her. And when distress or tenderness possessed her, 
she subsided into the most affecting melody and softness. In the art 
of exciting pity she had a power beyond all the actresses I have yet 
seen, or what your imagination can conceive. 

Not long after the Duke's company had moved to Dorset 
Garden, Cademan, in a stage fight with Harris in Man's the 
Master, was unfortunately pierced with an unbuttoned foil 
near the eye. The injury so affected his hand and speech that 
he could no longer act, and for thirty-five years the company 
paid his pension. The actor's calling was poorly requited. 



334 FLEET STREET 

Betterton, who had married Mrs. Saunderson, an actress at 
Lincoln's Inn Fields and afterwards at the Dorset Garden 
Theatre, at no time received more than £4 a week, though for 
a period an additional £1 was given as a pension to his wife. 

Langbaine records having seen a grim tragedy in the pit of 
Dorset Garden Theatre, when Mr. Scroop received a mortal 
wound from the rapier of Sir Thomas Armstrong, and died 
after he had been removed to a house opposite. 

The theatre was renowned for the magnificence of its staging. 
About 1673 the company had been strengthened by recruits 
such as Mrs. Barry, Jevon, Gillow, and Williams, but at the 
outset especially, had a serious rival in Killigrew's strong 
company of actors at the Theatre Royal, and it is supposed 
adopted this means to attract audiences. Plays were intro- 
duced known as operas, in which there was music, both vocal 
and instrumental, but this was not necessarily the chief feature. 
The word had not then its present meaning. Downes regards 
scenes, machinery, and dancing as the essentials of opera. 
He calls Shadwell's comedy, The Lancashire Witches, produced 
at the Dorset Garden in 1681, an opera, " having several 
Machines of flyings for the Witches, and other diverting 
contrivances in it." Its success was beyond expectation. 

Settle's Empress of Morocco, first presented to King Charles's 
Court at Whitehall before moved to the Dorset Garden stage, 
was another piece of the sort ; with splendid scenery, prisons, 
palaces, fleets, combats of desperate duration, assassinations, 
a dancing tree, a rainbow, a shower of hail, a criminal executed, 
and hell itself opening upon the stage. Dryden gave his most 
furious phrases to the play and author, and this kind of 
production in general — 

'Twere folly now a stately pile to raise, 
To build a playhouse while you throw down plays, 
While scenes, machines, and empty Opera reign, 
And for the pencil you the pen disdain. 

There is ample evidence, however, that the spectacular 
play attracted full houses, and Killigrew's company in turn 
underwent neglect. Some have thought that Betterton, 
being in the stronger position, was able to dictate terms, 
but it is not unlikely that both the Duke's and the King's 
actors were suffering loss of patronage when the union of the 
two companies in 1682, probably on the representation of 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 335 

Charles the Second, sealed the fate of the Dorset Garden Theatre. 
The fashion of the town had travelled westward, and the united 
company, the strongest ever formed, migrated to the Theatre 
Royal, Drury Lane. Dry den, in his Epilogue spoken at the 
opening of the new house on the 26th March, 1674, claims for 
Drury Lane one decided advantage over that part of London 
which playgoers had to traverse in going to Dorset Garden — 

Our House relieves the ladies from the frights 
Of ill-pav'd streets, and long dark winter nights, 
The Flanders horses from a cold bleak road, 
Where bears in furs dare scarcely look abroad ; 
The audience from worn plays and fustian stuff 
Of rhyme more nauseous than three boys in cuff. 

The now populous Strand and Fleet Street formed the 
" cold bleak road " here described. 

The proximity of the theatre brought actors and playwrights 
to Salisbury Square, where was quite a notable colony. Dry- 
den I refer to later. Otway had lodgings near by. Lady 
Davenant, another resident, is buried in St. Bride's Church. 
Shadwell lived in Salisbury Court with his wife, who acted in 
his plays on the Dorset Garden stage. On his death he left 
her his share in the theatre. Of the actors known to have 
lived in the square and adjacent streets, Betterton, Harris, 
Cave, Underhill, and Sandford may be named. 

Dorset Garden Theatre continued for a time to be used on 
occasion by the united companies for dramas requiring spec- 
tacular display, but its record substantially ends with the union. 
In 1689 it had been renamed The Queen's Theatre, after William 
the Third's Consort. It passed into the hands of Christopher 
Rich, a rogue of a lawyer, in the following year, Charles Dave- 
nant being content to accept £80 for his interest. The original 
adventures having received no return, had lost all concern 
for their poor speculation. We get a measure of the degrada- 
tion into which the house fell from the following advertisement 
in The Post Boy, the 8th December, 1699— 

At the request of several persons of Quality, on Saturday next, 
being the 9th inst., at the Theatre in Dorset Gardens, the famous 
Kentishmen, Wm. and Rich. Joy, design to show to the Town before 
they leave it, the same Tryals of Strength, both of them, that Wm. 
had the honour of showing before His Majesty and their Royal High- 
nesses, with several other persons of Quality ; for which he received 
a considerable Gratuity. The Lifting a Weight of Two Thousand Two 
Hundred and Forty Pounds. His holding an extraordinary large Cart 



336 FLEET STREET 

Horse ; and Breaking a Rope which will bear Three Thousand Five 
Hundred weight. Beginning exactly at 2, and ending at 4. The 
Boxes, 4s. ; the Pit, 2s. 6d. ; 1st. Gallery, 2s. ; Upper Gallery, Is. 

Whereas, several scandalous Persons have given out that they can 
do as much as any of the Brothers, we do offer to such persons £100 
reward, if he can perform the said matters of strength, as they do, 
provided the Pretender will forfeit £20 if he doth not. The day it is 
perform'd, will be affixed a signal Flag on the Theatre. No money 
to be return'd after once paid. 

In the prologue to Farquhar's Constant Couple (1700) 
allusion is made toa" strong man " who then had possession 
of the house — 

Ah friends ! Poor Dorset Gardens house is gone, 
Quite lost to us ; and, for some strange misdeeds, 
That strong man, Samson's, pull'd it o'er our heads. 

In April, 1703, the theatre was again in possession of the 
actors, but not without protest. It is curious to find the 
City's hostility to the stage enduring till so late a period ; 
for when in that year it was proposed to refit the Dorset Garden 
Theatre, the grand jury petitioned that " some effectual 
course be taken, if possible, to prevent the youth of this city 
from resorting to the playhouses, which we rather mention 
because the playhouse bills are again posted up throughout 
the city, in contempt of a former presentment and a positive 
order of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen to the contrary, 
dated June, 1700 ; as also because we are informed that a 
playhouse within the liberties of this city, which has been of 
late disused and neglected, is at this time refitting to be used 
as formerly. We do not presume to prescribe to this 
honourable Court, but we cannot question but that, if they 
should think fit humbly to address her Majesty in this case, she 
will be graciously pleased to prevent it." * There was no result. 

At the bottom of the playbill for the 27th November, 1704, 
Dorset Garden is said to be repaired from the damage done by 
the great storm of that year. The company intended to have 
acted on the 6th December, but deferred the performance 
owing to bad weather. " The deserted company of Comedians 
of the Theatre Royal " announced their intention to act at 
Dorset Garden, on the 24th October, 1706, The Recruiting 
Officer, " in which they pray there may be singing by Mrs. 
Tofts in English and Italian, and some dancing." Genest lists 

1 Fitzgerald, A New History of the English Stage, i, 315. 



THE WHITEFRIARS PLAYHOUSES 337 

seven plays acted between that date and the following 28th 
November, when the performance of a drama called Relapse 
seems to have been the last theatrical use of the Dorset Garden 
stage. 

Mrs. Tofts, above alluded to, a famous singer, had other 
qualities besides a rich voice, which were characterised in a 
bitter epigram said to be by Steele — 

On Mrs. Tofts 
So great is thy beauty, so sweet is thy song, 
As had drawn both the beasts and their Orpheus along ; 
But such is thy av'rice and such is thy pride, 
That the beasts must have starv'd, and the Poet have died. 

The house was standing in 1720 (Strype) but shortly after- 
wards was pulled down, and the site used consecutively for a 
wood-yard, the New River Company's offices, and, after a 
long interval, for the City Gasworks. The City of London 
School was built on the land in 1885. 

Contemporary with the Whitefriars stage was another and 
less commendable form of public amusement provided by the 
pit for cock-fighting in Shoe Lane. Sir Henry Wotton and 
decent company frequented it in 1633, but if the following 
anecdote is at all typical of the manners of titled sportsmen of 
the time one must withdraw the " decent " — 

Sir Thomas Jermyn [died 1644] meaning to make himself merry, 
and gull the Cockers, sends his man into the Pitt in Shoo Lane, with 
an £100 and a dunghill cock, neatly trimmed and cut for the battle. 
The plot being well laid, the fellow gets another to throw him in, and 
fight him in Sir Thomas Jermyn's name, and the fellow bets the £100 
against him. The cock was match't, and hearing Sir Thomas Jermyn's 
name had many bets on his head ; but after three or four good brushes, 
he showed a fair pair of heels. Every one wondered to see Sir Thomas 
his strain cry Craven ; and away came his man with his money doubled. l 

Pepys, a generation later, gives a most unflattering account 
of the place — 

Dec. 21, 1663. — To Shoe Lane to see a cocke-fighting at a new pit 
there, a spot I was never at in my life : but Lord ! to see the strange 
variety of people, from Parliament man by name Wildes that was 
Deputy Governor of the tower when Robinson was Lord Mayor, to 
the poorest 'prentices, bakers, brewers, butchers, draymen, and what 
not ; and all these fellows one with another cursing and betting. I 
soon had enough of it. 

1 Thorns, Anecdotes and Traditions (Camden Society), p. 47. 

22 — (2246) 



CHAPTER XV 

PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 

Old Time seems now to stand at the head of the pulpit, with its great 
scythe, saying with a hoarse voice, work while it is called to-day, 
at night I will mow thee down. Grim Death seems to stand at 
the side of the pulpit, with its sharp arrow, saying, do thou shoot 
God's arrows, and I will shoot mine. The grave seems to be open 
at the foot of the pulpit, with dust in her bosom, saying — 
Louden thy cry 
To God, 
To men, 

And now fulfil thy trust : 
Here thou must lie, 
Mouth stopp'd, 
Breath gone, 
And silent in the dust. 
Rev. Thomas Vincent, God's Terrible Voice in the City, 1667. 

In the quiet vestry room of St. Bride's Church I sat alone 
one long summer afternoon, turning over the pages of the 
burial register of the dreadful plague year. The big volume, 
leather bound, lay open on the table. The parchment has in 
two and a half centuries become tinged with shades of yellow 
and brown ; the ink has faded ; but the entries are per- 
fectly clear. Page after page, a name on each line, and each 
line a death. The sheets rustled in the fingers ; the fingers 
became tired, the mind muddled with all the counting. 

The entries are short, for Death was too busy for full descrip- 
tion. A surname, sometimes a Christian name, more rarely 
an address. Often merely " a man," " a child " — none 
survived to tell who these nameless people were. And each 
line a death, but I missed the distinction, common elsewhere, 
given by the fateful initial "p." The first case of plague of the 
year 1665 is perhaps this, on the 10th July — 
A man suddonley in Shoolane. 
Other entries I have taken at random out of hundreds, some 
showing that father, mother, and children all perished 
together — 

Aug. 2. Elizabeth Ropar and her child. 
4. Mr. Tailors maid in Goorg ally. 
10. Elizabeth Judd. On the 11th Thomas Judd. 
15. A maid in Piggots house. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 339 

Aug. 17. Elizabeth Hubbard. John Hubbard. 

Elizabeth Temple (doubtless a foundling of the Inns of 
Court). 
18. Mr. Wolpools servant ; a woman in Rackett Court ; a 

woman att Mr. Dadfords in newstreet. 
21. Mr. Christmas child. 

28. Benjamin Bayley, Frances Bayley. On the 29th Benjamin 
Bayley again (doubtless father or son). Mary Burton. 
On the 29th Elizabeth Burton. 
Sept. 1. Thomas Shephard, Edward Shephard. 

4. John Smith. John Smith his sonne. On the 5th Thomas 

Smith and Bartholomew Smith. 
6. William Browne, Margaret Browne, Hannah Browne. On 
the 9th Hannah Browne again. On the 11th Sarah 
Browne. 
8. John Millar, Elizabeth Millar. On the 11th Hugh Millar 

and Ann Millar. 
11. Johnson Watts and Rebecca Watts. 

13. Mr. Choralls man. Mary Johnson. Elizabeth Johnson. 
On the 14th William Johnson. 

Then the writing changes ; perhaps the hand had tired. 
Or was it because the office of burial left no time for the parson 
to attend himself to the register ? But the tale goes on, the 
long columns crowded with the entries of a single day — 

Sept. 17. Russell Bonning, Susannah Bonning. 

18. A man at the Cock and boot in newstreet. 
A man at the rose taverne. 

19. Mrs. Pearson and her child. 

20. A woman in Drapers Yard. 
25. A man in milk yard. 

A man from parsons court in Bride Lane. 

28. A man from three legd ally. 
John from ye white horse. 

29. A child from Kingshead ally. 
A man from newstreet. 

A maid from the Crowne in Fleet street. 
A child from Fleett yard. 

Looking up from these time-soiled pages, filled day by day 
while the plague raged, and out beyond the window through 
which the sun streamed, I tried to realise the tragedy that this 
book told. It was a hotter summer than this when the plague 
came — a glorious summer, after winter's severe frost. The 
sun burnt in the sky. For weeks hardly a cloud had crossed 
the blue heavens, and no rain had fallen. All vegetation was 
parched. Old folks remembered the terrible plague visitation 
when King Charles the First ascended the Throne, forty years 



340 FLEET STREET 

gone by, and it was a summer like this. Then there had been 
1,031 plague deaths in St. Bride's parish alone. The year 
1637 was still talked of, when the plague had taken lesser toll, 
and people recalled the signs. 

Fever had been prevalent in the early months of 1665, but 
the first plague reported as such was in the distant out parish 
of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields, on the highest ground. Boghurst, 
the physician-writer, practised there, and has told how the 
infection crept southward by St. Martin's, and eastward by 
Holborn and the Strand, and passing down Chancery Lane 
entered the City. It was met as plague had been met before. 
The well-to-do, with but few exceptions, fled on the first alarm. 
The lawyers hastily left their Inns, moots and readings being 
abandoned. 

Order was made by the Inner Temple Parliament on the 11th 
June, 1665, that by reason of the sickness of the plague 
increasing, the reading for the next vacation should not be kept. 
There is no other record whatever in the books until eight 
months later, when the order was repeated. * The Temple was 
left empty, the barristers quitting London and students 
betaking themselves to country homes of parents and friends. 
In all the fearful months during which the plague raged, nothing 
speaks more eloquently of deserted halls and chambers than the 
fact that while people were dying fifty and more a day all 
around, there is a total of but twelve deaths registered as 
" of the plague " among the Temple burials, the last being 
that of Henry Chilton, steward of Inner Temple. 

The clergy were in many cases as hasty as the lawyers in 
getting away from London, leaving flocks without a pastor 
and empty pulpits, to be seized by the Nonconformist clergy 
ejected from their benefices in 1663. These last did some of 
the most splendid parochial work of the plague year. It was 
to their memory that the Congregational Memorial Hall 
in Farringdon Street was erected in 1876. Both in St. Bride's 
and St. Dunstan's, however, the clergy's ministrations went 
on. Every page of the St. Bride's register of plague burials is 
signed at the bottom corner " Ri. Pearson " — Richard Pearson, 
the curate, who lived and laboured through all the horrors of 
that desperate time. 

1 Cal. of Inner Temple Records, vol. iii, p. 12. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 341 

London's watermen took wives and families in their wherries 
upstream, mooring far away until the plague abated. The 
river was as melancholy and deserted as the streets. 
Tradesmen who could do so hurried away, leaving their business. 
The keeper of the famous Cock tavern in Fleet Street announced 
his absence in the Weekly Intelligencer for 1665, No. 51, by a 
curious advertisement — 

This is to notify that the master of the Cock and Bottle, commonly 
called the Cock Alehouse, at Temple Bar, hath dismissed his servants, 
and shut up his house, for this Long Vacation, intending (God willing) 
to return at Michaelmas next, so that all persons whosoever who have 
any accompts with the said master, or farthings belonging to the said 
house, are desired to repair thither before the 8th of this instant 
July, and they shall receive satisfaction. 

But not all the citizens could take these measures of safety. 
The poor, and they were the larger number, were left 
behind. They crowded the liberties, living closely packed 
in the courts and alleys and by-ways of the great ward of 
Farringdon Without, their condition desperate in any case, 
and made more hopeless and more desperate by the flight of 
the merchants, and absence of wages and employment. Upon 
them the plague fell with its greatest severity. Familiarity 
with its horrors bred a sense of callous indifference ; but there 
was with them, as always with the poor, to their credit, a sense 
of duty to one another. This had been commented upon by a 
writer of the plague year of 1637, who said : " There is a strange 
opinion here among the poorer sort of people, who hold it a 
matter of conscience to visit their neighbours in any sickness, 
yea though they know it to be the infection." 

With starvation on one side and plague on the other, they 
held their lives cheaply, and bore themselves, Dr. Creighton 
has remarked, with an unconcern that was strange to the rich. 
Their desperate case explains the ease with which the Mayor 
could always get men to undertake for pay the disagreeable 
and risky work of day and night watchmen to the multitude 
of shut-up houses, of bearers of the dead, of buriers, of nurses, 
and distributors of public charity. As soon as any fell in these 
humble ranks, others were willing to take their place ; so that at 
no period of the epidemic was there any break-down in the work 
of expeditious burial or any failure in good order and decency. * 
Money was freely subscribed from all parts of England for relief. 

1 Creighton, History of Epidemics, i, 663. 



342 FLEET STREET 

The dread infection entered the printing houses. Of the 
small body of London printers, masters and workmen, whose 
numbers had been already thinned by rigorous persecution 
after the Restoration, eighty had perished of plague by 
mid-October. x 

I took the toll of the dead as shown by the burial registers. 
In the later days of July the plague spread rapidly, 159 plague 
deaths in St. Bride's ; in August reached alarming proportions — 
615 plague deaths in St. Bride's parish in that month, 233 
in St. Dunstan's, others in Bridewell precinct, the Rolls, and 
the Temple to swell the total that Fleet Street gave. In the 
five months before plague struck the city the average mortality 
from all causes in St. Bride's had been forty-two a month ; 
in the previous year of good health about thirty. 

Figures suggest only remotely what all this implies : fifteen 
to twenty persons dying each day where one had died before, 
and so for two unbroken months ; for two other months 
Death's harvest was one-third as great ; and this not in one 
parish, but in varying proportions in thirty-three parishes of 
the City and its liberties and outskirts. 

" Few ruffling gallants walk the streets ; few spotted ladies 
to be seen at the windows," wrote the godly Vincent. No carts 
rumbled along the cobbled highway of Fleet Street, but one 
came, and came frequently — the dead cart. 

Many of the desolate looking houses bore the cross chalked 
on their doors, and the piteous appeal, " Lord have mercy 
upon us ! " Watchmen stood before with halberts. People 
were shut in there, very likely until all the poor prisoners 
perished. At night came the searchers and removers of the 
dead, and the cart rumbled away with its ghastly load, to the 
graveyards, already choking, or the plague pits, " till the nights, 
though much lengthened, are grown too short to conceal the 
burials of those that died the day before, people being thereby 
constrained to borrow daylight for that service. Little noise 
heard day nor night but the tolling of bells." 2 

The City collected the destitute children, mostly left orphans, 
at the gates, where the upper rooms were made over for their 
use as receiving houses or nurseries. 

1 Sir Roger L'Estrange to Lord Arlington. State Papers (Domestic), 
1665, Oct. 16. 

8 Pepys to Lady Carteret, Sept. 4. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 343 

Bonfires, piled high with wood and coal, blazed day and 
night in front of Clifford's Inn, at the foot of the street by Fleet 
Bridge, and at other points — an old idea, born of previous 
visitations, to burn out the plague. Flame, it was thought, 
would purify the air and kill the contagion, but no fire could 
subdue the stench of the neglected length of Fleet Ditch. 

In September matters were even worse than in August. The 
count of the St. Bride's register showed 100 deaths every four 
days, and from the 12th a full 100 deaths were crammed into 
three days — three days toll from a single City parish. On 
the 15th September the decline began. Rain fell and put out 
the fires in the streets, bringing new life to the parched grass 
that had grown up unchecked between the stones. The heat 
passed. Although the last ten days of the month yielded but 
fifty-six plague deaths in St. Bride's, September, by reason of 
the frightful mortality with which it was ushered in, has the 
worst record of the plague year — 639 deaths. The neighbour- 
ing parish of St. Dunstan's escaped more lightly, the plague 
deaths for August, September, and October together numbering 
568. 

I cannot entirely reconcile the register counts with the 
published bills of mortality, but give from the latter the 
totals for the year 1665 — 

All deaths. Plague deaths. 

St. Bride's, Fleet Street.. .. 2111 1427 

St. Dunstan's 958 665 

Bridewell Precinct .... 230 179 

The Temple (Burials) 12 

In all the wide area of London, including the populous 
out-parishes, the plague deaths numbered 68,596, Stepney 
standing at the head of the list of parishes with 6,533. 
i • It is clear that the plague deaths registered as such are far 
below their true proportions, for while the death rate was 
leaping upward to fifteen and twenty times the normal figure, 
and even higher, only two-thirds of the mortality is attributed 
to plague. The infection lingered spasmodically into the next 
year, leaving here and there an isolated record. Then, closing 
the whole dreadful chapter, I came upon this welcome 
entry — 

John Child was sworne parishe Clerke of St. Brides ye 9 day of May, 
1666, in which weeke not one dyed. 



344 FLEET STREET 

The population had sorely diminished. Thereafter for some 
time the burials at St. Bride's averaged twenty a month. 

London had scarcely been cleansed of the plague when 
overwhelming disaster befell the citizens — the Fire of 1666, 
which gave us the modern city, so greatly changed in appear- 
ance, so little changed in plan, for the main streets and courts 
to-day are those which gave communication about the mediaeval 
walled town. The larger part of the fire area lies beyond my 
limits, and it will suffice to leave an impression of the roaring, 
seething, crackling mass of flame which, driven by the wind, 
travelled slowly westward till it burst through Ludgate. A 
contemporary writer serves best. I take a passage by the Rev. 
Thomas Vincent, whose " God's Terrible Voice in the City " 
was published the following year. He had been ejected from 
the living of St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street ; he stayed in 
London through all the plague, preaching from deserted parish 
pulpits and ministering to the sick and dying. Having 
afterwards been an eye-witness of London on fire, he had 
supp'd full with horrors — 

It was the 2nd of September, 1666, that the anger of the Lord was 
kindled against London, and the fire began. It began in a baker's 
house in Pudding Lane, by Fish Street Hill ; and now the Lord is 
making London like a fiery oven in the time of his anger (Psalm xxi, 9), 
and in his wrath doth devour and swallow up all our habitations. 

It was in the depth and dead of night, when most doors and senses 
were lockt up in the City, that the fire doth break forth and appear 
abroad, and like a mighty giant refresht with wine doth awake and 
arm itself, quickly gathers strength, when it had made havoc of some 
houses, rusheth down the hill towards the bridge, crosseth Thames 
Street, invadeth Magnus Church at the bridge foot, and, though that 
church were so great, yet it was not a sufficient barricade against 
this conquerer ; but having scaled and taken this fort, it shooteth 
flames with so much the greater advantage into all places round 
about, and a great building of houses upon the bridge is quickly thrown 
to the ground. 

Then the conquerer, being stayed in his course at the bridge, marcheth 
back towards the City again, and runs along with great noise and 
violence through Thames Street westward, where, having such com- 
bustible matter in its teeth, and such a fierce wind upon its back, it 
prevails with little resistance, unto the astonishment of the beholders. 

My business is not to speak of the hand of man, which was made 
use of in the beginning and carrying on of this fire. The beginning 
of the fire at such a time, when there had been so much hot weather, 
which had dried the houses and made them more fit for fuel ; the 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 345 

beginning of it in such a place, where there were so many timber houses, 
and the shops filled with so much combustible matter ; and the begin- 
ning of it just when the wind did blow so fiercely upon that corner 
towards the rest of the City, which was then like tinder to the spark ; 
this doth smell of a Popish design, hatcht in the same place where the 
Gunpowder Plot was contrived, only that this was more successful. . . 

Then, then the City did shake indeed. 

Rattle, rattle, rattle, was the noise which the fire struck upon the 
ear round about, as if there had been a thousand iron chariots beating 
upon the stones ; and if you opened your eye to the opening of the 
streets where the fire was come, you might see in some places whole 
streets at once in flames, that issued forth as if they had been so many 
great forges from the opposite windows, which, folding together, 
were united into one great flame throughout the whole street ; and 
then you might see the houses tumble, tumble, tumble, from one end 
of the street to the other, with a great crash, leaving the foundations 
open to the view of the Heavens. 

But the evening draws on, and now the fire is more visible and 
dreadful : instead of black curtains of the night, which used to be 
spread over the city, now the curtains are yellow, the smoke that arose 
from the burning parts, seemed like so much flame in the night, which 
being blown upon the other parts by the wind, the whole city at some 
distance seemed to be on fire. Monday night was a dreadful night, 
when the wings of the night had shadowed the light of the heavenly 
bodies, there was no darkness of night in London, for the fire shines 
now round about with a fearful blaze, which yielded such light in the 
streets as it had been the sun at noonday. . . . 

The fire is still making towards them, and threatens the suburbs ; 
it was amazing to see how it spread itself several miles in compass ; 
and amongst other things that night, the sight of Guildhall was a 
fearful spectacle, which stood the whole body of it together in view 
for several hours together, after the fire had taken it, without flames 
(I suppose because the timber was such solid oak) in a bright shining 
coal, as if it had been a palace of gold, or a great building of burnished 
brass. 

Now the fire gets into Blackfriars, and so continues its course by 
the water, and makes up towards Paul's Church, on that side, and 
Cheapside fire besets the great building on this side, and the church, 
though all of stone outward, though naked of houses about it, and 
though so high above all the buildings of the city, yet within a while 
doth yield to the assault of the conquering flames, and strangely takes 
fire at the top ; now the lead melts and runs down, as if it had been 
snow before the sun ; and the great beams and massy stones with 
a great noise fall on the pavement, and break through into 
Faith Chapel underneath ; and great flakes of stone scale and peel 
off strangely from the side walls. The conquerer having got this 
high fort, darts its flames round about ; now Paternoster-Row, Newgate 
market, the Old Bailey and Ludgate Hill have submitted themselves 
to the devouring fire, which with wonderful speed rusheth down the 
hill into Fleet Street. 



346 FLEET STREET 

If forewarned is to be forearmed, Fleet Street should have 
been saved. But small wonder that in the presence of a 
disaster of such magnitude people lost their heads. The 
Duke of York, to whose credit little else is known, displayed 
much activity in giving orders and himself taking a hand 
with the pumps. * Pepys has left an amusing account of how 
he came upon the Mayor, Sir Thomas Bludworth, hot and 
perspiring at the fire — 

At last met ye Lord Mayor in Canning Street, like a man spent, 
with a handkerchief about his neck. To the King's message he cried 
like a fainting woman, " Lord ! what can I do ? I am spent ; people 
will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses, but the fire 
overtakes us faster than we can do it." That he needed no more 
soldiers ; and that for himself, he must go and refresh himself, having 
been up all night. So he left me, and I him. 

The 2nd September was a Sunday. The fire burnt through 
that day and throughout the night, burnt through Monday, 
and at daybreak on Tuesday the suburb was not yet attacked. 
For all this time its approach had been anxiously watched ; 
yet nothing effectual was done. On Tuesday Lord Arlington 
wrote to Sir Thomas Clifford that " the fire has burnt as far 
into the body of the City as St. Paul's, with such violence that 
no art can meddle with it. All hopes now rest in cutting off 
a part of the town by Holborn Bridge down to Bridewell." 2 
A few hours later the flames had crossed the Fleet. Had 
measures been taken in those two days before the fire burnt 
through Ludgate to clear the banks of Fleet Ditch of their 
wooden wharves and material piled upon them, blow up the 
sheds and timber houses which bordered the watercourse, and 
thus expose the barrier of a wide open space to further progress 
by the flames — well, then there might have been a different 
tale to tell. 

Instead, all sorts of orders were given for meeting the 
fire — when it came ! On Monday five posts were directed 
to be assembled at Temple Bar, Clifford's Inn Gardens, Fetter 

1 An eye-witness wrote of the activities of the future King James 
the Second on this occasion : " The Duke of York hath wonne the hearts 
of the people with his continuall and indefatigable paynes day and 
night in helping to quench the fire, handling bucketts of water with 
as much diligence as the poorest man that did assist." Letter by 
John Rush worth, Notes and Queries, 5th Ser. v, 307. 

2 State Papers (Domestic), 1666, Sept. 4. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 347 

Lane, Shoe Lane, and Cow Lane by Smithfield. Constables 
of the parishes attended, each with 100 men ; thirty foot 
soldiers, with a good careful officer, at each post ; three gentle- 
men, having power to give one-shilling to any who were 
diligent all night. At Temple Bar the three gentlemen were 
Lord Bellasis, Mr. Chicheley, and Mr. Hugh May. At Clif- 
ford's Inn Sir Charles Wheeler, Sir Godfrey Floid, and Colonel 
Lovelace. In bread, cheese, and beer, five pounds was to be 
allowed to each post. 1 The Trained Bands were called up to 
guard the people's goods, much of which had been thrown into 
Lincoln's Inn Fields. St. Dunstan's Church, too, was stacked 
high with household contents when it was found that the 
building had escaped unharmed. 

Mercers' shops on Ludgate Hill fed the flames ; the fire 
leapt over Fleet Ditch, and Fleet Street, narrow, with houses 
mostly timber-built on either side, lay in its path. The 
London that perished in the Great Fire was not the London 
of Charles the Second's age, but a city much older, in part 
Tudor, with medievalism still borne upon its face ; the area 
newly built was that beyond the liberties. Little change had 
occurred in Fleet Street itself in the sixty odd years since 
Elizabeth. The clean sweep made of wharves and sheds 
and tenement houses along Fleet Ditch indicates how fiercely 
the fire burnt from the Thames bank right up to Holborn 
Bridge, and broke upon Fleet Street. It burst against Bride- 
well, the stone walls of which offered some resistance. In 
Hollar's drawing of the desolated city after the Great Fire, 
prepared for Charles the Second, the walls of Bridewell are 
standing, but they form merely a shell. The City grain had 
been stored there, and 40,000 quarters of corn was consumed 
in the fire, leaving the dread spectre of famine to confront 
the already harassed citizens. 

Next Bridewell, the buildings of Dorset House, the great 
mansion of successive Earls of Dorset, and earlier of the Bishops 
of Salisbury, burnt on Tuesday night. 2 Then the flames entered 
Whitefriars, though Lord Manchester, Lord Holies, and others 
endeavoured to arrest their spread by pulling down houses 
thereabouts. The Salisbury Court Theatre, rebuilt in 1660, 



1 State Papers (Domestic), 1666, Sept. 3. 

2 Earl of Clarendon's Autobiography. 



348 FLEET STREET 

was destroyed. The refugees of Alsatia were driven out as 
their hovels successively became alight, and such remnants as 
survived of the old houses of the Carmelite friars disappeared. 
The fire in its progress consumed St. Bride's Church. Its 
roof and square tower had dominated the surrounding houses, 
in Fleet Street, and it is significant of the destruction wrought 
that Hollar shows no indication of the church amid the general 
pile of ruins. 

There are three entries in the St. Bride's burial registers 
of 1666 which bring vividly to the imagination the desolate 
state of the parish. Burials ceased for six weeks — 

Aug. 28. (sic) Ye parishe was Burnt downe. 
Oct. 15. But sixteene houses in ye brode place by Newe street. 
Oct. 21. Mr. Christopher Riche, in ye church porche, because ye 
body of ye Churche was not cleere. 

By daybreak on Wednesday the fire had reached the 
boundaries of the Temple. 

; • Nor was the only peril that which came out of the City from 
east to west. On the north the fire burnt through Newgate 
to the Fleet bank, and crossed Holborn Bridge, where the 
line was diverted. Shoe Lane, save some twenty houses 
about St. Andrew's Church — the church fortunately escaped — 
was burnt out from end to end. Then the flames came south- 
ward in an enveloping curve which threatened the destruction 
of the whole of Fleet Street, striking across the labyrinth of 
courts and alleys. Here was tinder to their liking ! Footways 
scarcely six feet in width, crooked and tortuous, divided the 
tenement buildings, packed tightly together. The flames 
passed from roof to roof unchecked, burning downwards in 
one great bonfire. 

John Evelyn had, with some others, received the King's 
command to look after the quenching of Fetter Lane, and to 
preserve if possible that part of the western suburb. Under 
Tuesday's date he entered in his diary, " All Fleet Streete, the 
Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill . . . now flaming, and most of it 
reduc'd to ashes ; the stones of Paules flew like grenados." 
He was the man on the spot. This was the spot — 

Ye melting lead running downe the streetes in a streame, and the 
very pavements glowing with fiery rednesse, so as no horse nor man 
was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopp'd all the 
passage, so that no help could be applied. The Eastern wind still 




W.a.BelT.Baltr 



Shaded Area Marks the Limits of the Fire 

Based upon Street* and Shortgrave's "Exact Survey" 



350 FLEET STREET 

more impetuously drove the flames forward. Nothing but ye Almighty 
power of God was able to stop them, for vaine was ye help of man. 

The wind dropped on Tuesday night, and the progress of the 
fire slackened. Fresh spirit was put into the harassed and 
toilworn workers. " Now they began to bestir themselves, 
and not till now, who hitherto had stood as men intoxicated, 
with their hands across," Evelyn records in his diary for 
Wednesday. Already the cathedral, churches, Guildhall, 
Companies' halls, and merchants' dwellings within the walls 
had been mostly consumed, but there were still hopes of saving 
the extremities of the western liberty. Seamen had been 
brought from the Royal dockyard at Deptford. They advised 
blowing up the houses with gunpowder, so as to make a wide 
gap against the march of the flames, and the task was under- 
taken in earnest. By this means, and the untiring industry 
of the people, the fire was eventually stopped, after about one- 
half of Fetter Lane, and not more than the first house in 
Fleet Street beyond, had succumbed to fire and explosion. St. 
Dunstan's Church, Clifford's Inn (except No. 13) and all 
between there and Temple Bar were saved. 

The message of London burning was carried north by 
dense columns of smoke, which trailed away for miles, the 
effects being visible as far as Oxford. In an early meteoro- 
logical register for 1666-7, " kept by Mr. Locke in Oxford," there 
is an entry on the 4th September, " Dim reddish sunshine," 
and the further note — 

This unusual colour of the Air, which without a Cloud appearing 
made the Sun-beams of a strange red dim Light, was very remarkable. 
We had then heard nothing of the Fire of London. But it appeared 
afterward to be the smoak of London then burning, which, driven 
this way by an Easterly wind, caused this odd Phenomenon. * 

To turn to the south side of the street, the lawyers in the 
Temple had battled valiantly, with much heat and sweat. 
They had New River water laid into the precinct, and the 
Thames offered an unlimited supply. But lacking adequate 
appliances, little could be done. The brick dwellings of 
King's Bench Walk, then but recently built, offered effective 
resistance for a time to the onset of the fire. 2 As the wind fell 
on Tuesday night there was yet a prospect that the Temple 

1 The Observatory, vol. 35, p. 64. 

3 Inner Temple Records. London Gazette, Sept. 8, 1666. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 351 

might escape the worst, but such hopes were disappointed. 
Inner Temple was almost burnt out. Middle Temple suffered 
nothing. 

Fleet Street was burning. So was Whitefriars. Thus the 
peril came from two sides. By Wednesday Ram Alley was 
alight from end to end, and the fire raged in Mitre Court, 
the flames having burnt across Serjeants' Inn, and driven the 
remaining judges and serjeants-at-law out of their chambers, 
with such possessions as they could save. Their hall, chapel, 
kitchen, and all the houses were destroyed. The fire in the 
Temple itself slowly gained ground ; sporadic outbreaks were 
checked, and buildings blown up with powder to make a clear 
way ; but the area of devastation was already great. Septem- 
ber was out of the legal term. Lord Clarendon, an eye-witness 
of the disaster, writes in his Autobiography that " when the 
fire came where the lawyers had houses, as they had in many 
places, especially Serjeants' Inn, in Fleet Street, with that part 
of the Inner Temple that was next it and White Friars, there 
was scarce a man to whom those lodgings appertained who was 
in town ; so that whatsoever was there, their money, books 
and papers, besides the evidences of many men's estates 
deposited in their hands, were all burnt or lost, to a very great 
value." 

It was later said that the benchers themselves would not 
suffer absent members' goods to be removed, it being contrary 
to the law to break open any man's chambers ! 

Amid the turmoil one J. Barker wrote to Lord Arlington's 
secretary — 

At the Temple neither boat, barge, cart, nor coach is to be had, 
all the streets full of goods, and the fire flaming into the very Temple. 

He had escaped from his chambers by little more than the 
skin of his teeth to Lord Lyonberg, the Swedish minister, to 
whose house a great part of his law books was to be brought, 
and he begged for a warrant to press a cart for his use. 1 

The fire burnt out the Master's residence, and at one moment 
it had seemed as if nothing could save the historic church. 
Flames speeding down Mitre Court and along Mitre Court 
Buildings actually licked the south-eastern wall, but the houses 
which crowded about the church were riven with powder, 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1666, Sept. 4. 



352 FLEET STREET 

and the precious fabric was unharmed. A roof-corner of Inner 
Temple Hall was set alight, but, happily, the flames were 
extinguished. 

Even when the victory seemed won, at such great cost, all 
was not over. On Thursday evening, the 6th September, 
fire again broke out in the Inner Temple, owing, it is supposed, 
to sparks igniting some wooden buildings. The Duke of 
York, a bencher of the Inn, on learning of this new peril hurried 
down from Whitehall, and remained at the Temple all night, 
personally superintending the operations. 1 Soldiers were 
sent in, and sailors from the Fleet, and these assisted, with 
four engineers whom the benchers had employed, in the 
demolition of buildings. Before morning, by the free use of 
gunpowder, the progress of the fire had been checked. Without 
extending further it burnt itself out on Friday, but for days 
thereafter alarms were frequent all over London, fires continu- 
ing to burn unchecked in cellars and dismantled warehouses, 
and places wherein coal, spirits, and other combustible materials 
were lodged. 

The resulting havoc is to be seen pictorially in Hollar's 
panoramic view ; in maps drawn immediately after the fire ; 
and in the " Exact Survey " by Streete and Shortgrave, made 
by order of the Lord Mayor. There are still standing one or 
two old houses that enable the limits to which the fire burnt 
to be set out with great accuracy, and others were within 
memory, or recent record. The Elizabethan gable buildings 
towards St. Dunstan's Church, two doors from Fetter Lane, 
which survived until 1890 (now replaced by Nos. 183 and 184 
Fleet Street), show where the westward progress of the fire 
ended on the northern side. 

• As the flames crossed Fetter Lane, No. 13 Clifford's Inn was 
burnt down, but all the rest of the Inn escaped. Among the 
older houses there still (1912) in use as chambers, but 
threatened with demolition, the row composed of Nos. 15, 16, 
and 17, facing the garden, were built in 1663 ; parts of No. 12, 
the oldest house in the Inn, in 1624 ; and Nos. 8 and 10, at the 
east end of the hall are also of considerable antiquity 2 — all 
dating before the Great Fire of London. 

1 London Gazette, Sept. 8th, 1666. 

2 Dr. Philip Norman, Burlington Magazine, vol. i, 264. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 353 

Nevill's Court is a little alley on the right-hand side going up 
Fetter Lane, the footway leading to Great New Street. At 
the far end, Nos. 13, 14, and 15, stood three picturesque old 
houses with plastered walls and overhanging upper storeys, 
of a time and type of which very few examples so long survived 
in London. The fire passed over Nevill's Court and burnt 
out the greater part of it, but these buildings at the north-east 
corner were spared. They owed their preservation to the large 
open space in front occupied by their gardens, which isolated 
them amidst the flames. 

In Shoe Lane a large remnant of Oldbourne Hall survived 
last century, and marked where the fire crossed the street. 
The site was covered by Messrs. Pontifex's premises, only 
recently pulled down for rebuilding. 

South of Fleet Street the fire burnt to the Thames side, 
leaving but very little of the Inner Temple standing. The 
sight was enough to have melted the stoniest of legal hearts ! 
The flames made a clean sweep — all King's Bench Walk gone, 
with the Crown Office, the King's Bench Office, and even the 
small lodges adjoining the river ; all Mitre Court Buildings, 
the Alienation Office, and the Exchequer Office, the last having 
its garden piled with ruins ; the buildings where now stand the 
library, class-rooms, and Parliament chamber. The open 
square of King's Bench Walk, now gravelled, but at that time 
partly planted with rows of trees, the pride of the Inn and 
its most fashionable residential quarter, was framed on three 
sides with charred ruins ; and, burning back, the fire had 
consumed Tanfield Court, the Master's House, and a block 
corresponding with Lamb Building, while the greater part, if 
not the whole, of Fig Tree Court was brought to the ground by 
fire or gunpowder. * 

Saving Old Paper Buildings, then possessing gravelled court- 
yards and galleries overlooking the garden wherein Selden and 
his friends walked, the houses in Inner Temple Lane, with the 
gateway built in the reign of James the First, their Hall, and 
their half share with Middle Temple of the historic church, 
little was left to the benchers of Inner Temple as they surveyed 
the scene of desolation which they could call their own. If 
Rochefoucault's philosophy be true, that in the misfortunes 

1 Cal. of Inner Temple Records, ii, 42, 43, 44, 50. 

23— (2246) 



354 FLEET STREET 

of our friends we find something which is not displeasing to 
us, then a glance into the highway must have brought consola- 
tion. Fleet Street from Fetter Lane, and the City as far 
as the eye could reach, had been reduced to like condition — 
everywhere piles of shattered stones and the blackened debris 
of timber-framed houses half obliterating the roadways. " I 
can say but this," wrote a member of Lincoln's Inn, describing 
the havoc, " that there is nothing but stones, and rubbish, 
and all exposed to the open air, so that you may see from one 
end of the City almost to the other. You can compare London 
(were it not for the rubbish) to nothing more than an open 

field." 1 

The wooden balcony of the Mitre Tavern (site covered by 
Hoare's Bank) was set alight by sparks, and had to be rebuilt, 
but I find no record of the tavern itself burning. It stood 
with its yards well back from the highway. The fire on the 
south side of the street travelled past St. Dunstan's Church to 
within 100 feet of Inner Temple gate, and stopped where long 
afterwards the Temple Exchange Coffee House flourished, 
bearing upon its front a Latin inscription carved in stone, 
which translated read — 

You see before you 
The last house of the city in flames 

The first of the city restored : 
May this be favourable and fortunate 
For both city and house, 
Especially for those who are auspiciously building. 
Elizabeth Moore owner of the site 
and 
Thomas Tuckey Tenant. 2 

The six deaths recorded in all the devastated area — six only — 
are surely understated. Evelyn noticed amidst the heat " the 
stench of some poor creatures bodies." One victim was a 
watchmaker, Paul Lowell, living in Shoe Lane, behind the 
Globe tavern. As the flames approached, he declared that he 
was eighty years of age, and that he would never desert his 
house ; and kept his word, for his bones and keys were found 
together in the ruins. 3 

1 Letter by Edw. Atkyns, Sept. 8, 1666. Lond. and Midd. Note-book, 
1892, p. 172. 

2 The Latin inscription is in Malcolm's Londinium Redivivus, ii, 299, 

3 T. C. Noble, Memorials of Temple Bar, p. 12. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 355 

Vincent, whose profession should have given him charity, 
attributed the Great Fire of London to the malice of Papists ; 
the [lying inscription which |so long disgraced the Fire 
Monument on Fish Street Hill indicates how deeply the belief 
had sunk into the popular mind. It was fed by all sorts of 
ridiculous stories. Among contemporary documents is the 
examination of a young ruffian aged ten, one Edward Taylor, 
before Lord Lovelace. He told that he was with his father 
and uncle, Jo Taylor, a Dutchman, when they threw two fire 
balls into an open window in Pudding Lane, and the same in 
Fleet Street and elsewhere : this they did for two or three days 
and nights. His uncle gave him £7 for help in the firing. 
Some Frenchmen, Dutchmen, women, and boys went about the 
City with fireballs. In the mad excitement of the time this 
worthless fabrication was held to justify the lad's father being 
placed under arrest. * 

Fear of a repetition of the disaster was long in subsiding. 
In May, 1679, the people were thrown into panic by the dis- 
covery of a so-called plot to burn down the City again. The 
house of one Bird, in Fetter Lane, having been burned, his 
servant, Elizabeth Oxley, was suspected of wilfully causing the 
fire. She was arrested and examined. What follows is a 
remarkable story. The woman swore that she had actually 
caused the fire, and that she had been persuaded to do so by a 
certain Stubbs, a Papist, who promised her £5 if she would 
comply. Stubbs, being arrested, declared that the woman's 
evidence was perfectly true, and that Father Gifford, his con- 
fessor, incited him to procure the fire, saying that it would be 
a godly act to burn all heretics out of their homes. The Irish 
were also implicated ; the Papists, it was said, were going to 
rise in insurrection in London, and an army was to be landed 
from France. Five unhappy Jesuits were actually executed 
for this business, and so great was the popular alarm that all 
Catholics were banished from the City and ten miles around. 2 

It is singular that the Fire of London never inspired a 
great poem. Apart from Dry den's Annus Mirabilis, there is 
nothing. In that lengthy work, ninety-six quatrains out of a 
total of 304 are devoted to the Fire. The verse was written 



1 State Papers (Domestic), 1666, Sept. 9. 

2 Besant's Survey, London in the Time of the Stuarts, p. 257. 



356 FLEET STREET 

at Charlton in the winter of the same year, Dryden having 
before been driven from London by the plague, and the 
consequent closing of the playhouses. 

The form chosen is not altogether happy, owing to the 
monotonous recurrence of the same cadence in each stanza. 
Probably there are none better than these really fine 
passages — 

In this deep quiet, from what source unknown, 
Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose ; 

And first few scattering sparks about were blown, 
Big with the flames that to our ruin rose. 

Then in some close-pent room it crept along 
And, smouldering as it went, in silence fed ; 

Till the infant monster, with devouring strong, 
Walked boldly upright with exalted head. 

Now, like some rich and mighty murderer, 

Too great for prison which he breaks with gold, 

Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear 

And dares the world to tax him with the old, 

So 'scapes the insulting fire his narrow jail 
And makes small outlets into open air ; 

There the fierce winds his tender force assail 
And beat him downward to his first repair. 

The winds, like crafty courtesans, withheld 

His flames from burning but to blow them more ; 

And, every fresh attempt, he is repelled 
With faint denials, weaker than before. 

And now, no longer letted of his prey 

He leaps up at it with enraged desire, 
O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey 

And nods at every house his threatening fire. 

The ghosts of traitors from the Bridge descend, 

With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice ; 
About the fire into a dance they bend 

And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice. 

There must have been many acts of heroism left unrecorded, 
but men were too preoccupied to write them down, and I have 
none to brighten these pages. Here is a note of tragedy — 

James Shirley, a favourite dramatist of Charles the First's 
Court, was in 1666 living in Fleet Street. A confirmed 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 357 

Royalist, he had fled from Charles's army after the disaster 
of Marston Moor, and retired to France with the Duke of 
Newcastle, his patron. When the King's cause had been 
crushed he quietly crept back to England, where for a time he 
lived in concealment, and to eke out a livelihood set up in White- 
friars his old distasteful business of schoolmaster. At the 
Restoration Shirley's plays were again staged, but he shared 
the bitter experience of so many others who have been laid 
aside for a time : he was judged out of date in the new and 
licentious regime. 

Shirley's house in Fleet Street, near Serjeants' Inn, was 
burnt to the ground in the Great Fire. Compelled, with his 
second wife, to fly, he took refuge in St. Giles' s-in-the-Fields, 
at that time an isolated out-parish which was already crowded 
with homeless Londoners. The terror of the scenes he had 
witnessed and the exposure and suffering undergone brought 
on mortal illness, and he and his wife died on the same day 
about six weeks later, Shirley being then seventy years of age. 
They were buried in one grave in the churchyard of St. 
Giles's-in-the-Fields, on the 29th October, 1666. 

Such was James Shirley's melancholy end. Few people 
read his plays nowadays ; of his literary work, it is customary 
to complain that it discloses an imitative and not an original 
genius. Yet others greater than he might have been proud to 
claim that noble lyric printed among his poems, tinged as it is 
with memory of the unhappy fate of his Sovereign — 

The glories of our blood and state 

Are shadows, not substantial things ; 
There is no armour against fate ; 

Death lays his icy hand on kings : 
Sceptre and crown 
Must tumble down, 
And in the dust be equal made 
With the poor crooked scythe and spade. 

Some men with swords may reap the field, 

And plant fresh laurels where they kill ; 
But their strong nerves at last must yield ; 
They tame but one another still ; 
Early or late 
They stoop to fate, 
And must give up their murmuring breath, 
When they, poor captives, creep to death. 



358 FLEET STREET 

The garlands wither on your brow, 

Then boast no more your mighty deeds ; 
Upon Death's purple altar now 

See, where the victor-victim bleeds ; 
Your heads must come 
To the cold tomb, 
Only the actions of the just 
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust. 

John Ogilby, too, was burnt out of Whitefriars, where he 
kept house. He translated Virgil and Homer, and is only 
remembered as a bad poet. The sneers of Dryden (Mac- 
Flecknoe) and of Pope in The Dunciad won him this reputation 
rather than the demerits of his translations, which nobody 
reads ; textually close, they are commonplace and unpoetical 
in expression. But he was a good printer, and the publisher 
of some choice books illustrated by Hollar and other 
engravers : moreover, a man of resource. Ogilby daringly 
adventured on a literary lottery, under Royal patronage, in 
which all the prizes to be drawn were books edited, printed, 
or written by himself. 

The Fire destroyed, with his house, stock of the value of 
£3,000, and he petitioned King Charles for assistance to begin 
again work then almost perfected, and for his Majesty's favour 
in reprinting his editions of Virgil and Homer, ^sop's Fables, 
and other books burnt in the late conflagration. * 

The versatile man — originally he was a dancing master, 
whose agility on his feet led to his selection to dance in the 
Duke of Buckingham's great Masque at the Court of King 
Charles the First 2 — thereafter appears as a "sworn viewer," 
or surveyor, of the City area devastated by the flames, and to 
him we owe a most valuable map of London after the Fire. 
He obtained the honorific titles of " King's cosmographer and 
geographic printer," and was able to rebuild in Whitefriars, 
setting up a large printing establishment. For this purpose 
he organised a second lottery of his own productions. 

The prospectus makes quaint reading. Ogilby tells his 
patrons of his misfortunes, first by the Plague, which took 
his customers, and then the Fire burning his books. His 
first lottery had been opened in May, 1665. 



1 State Papers (Domestic), Nos. 109-10, 1666, Sept. 
* Diet, of National Biography, John Ogilby. 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 359 

Its proceedings were stopt by the then growing sickness, and later 
discontinued under the arrest of that common calamity, till the next 
year's more violent and sudden visitation, the late dreadful and sur- 
prising Conflagration, swallowed up the remainder, being two parts 
of three, to the value of three thousand pounds and upwards, in that 
unimaginable deluge. Therefore, to repair in some manner his so 
much commiserated losses, by the advice of his patrons, friends, and 
especially by the invitations of his former Adventurers, he is resolved 
on a second lottery, with some remains of the first, embracing reliques 
preserved in several hands from the fire, of a reprint of his former 
editions, and others new and of equal value. 

Tickets, price 5s. to 40s., were to be had at the Black Boy, 
over against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, where 
the volumes given as prizes might be seen. Pepys tells of 
the success of the lottery, greater than that of the first, which 
fell in evil time. Ogilby complained querulously that some 
of his first supporters had not paid their subscriptions — the 
Plague had taken many poor souls beyond the cares of books 
and pence. 1 The poet-lottery-keeper was buried in Wren's 
then unfinished St. Bride's Church in September, 1676. 

• This was an age of prognostications of dire events and 
calamities, and one I recall because of the bathos of it. 
William Lilly learnt the Black Art from Rhys Evans in Gun- 
powder Alley, Shoe Lane — where Lovelace perished. His 
almanacs and prophecies made him the most renowned 
astrologer of the Commonwealth and the Restoration. Nettled 
at certain accusations, he inserted this advertisement in The 
Perfect Diurnal, 9th April, 1655 — 

Whereas there are several flying reports, and many false and scan- 
dalous speeches in the mouth of many people in this City, tending unto 
this effect, viz., That I, William Lilly, should predict or say there 
would be a great fire in or near the Old Exchange, and another in 
St. John's Street, and another in the Strand, near Temple Bar, and in 
several other parts of the City. These are to certify the whole City 
that I protest before Almighty God that I never wrote any such 
thing, I never spoke any such word, or ever thought of any such 
thing, of any or all of these particular places or streets, or any other 
parts. These untruths are forged by ungodly men and women to 
disturb the quiet people of the City, to amaze the nation, and to cast 
aspersions and scandals on me. 

He must have misread the stars. What an opportunity 
missed, by forecasting the Great Fire of London, to have 
restored credit to a science already discredited by too many 

x - Gentleman's Magazine, 1814, pt. I, p. 646. 



360 FLEET STREET 

professors engaged in exposing one another. Not to have 
forecasted the Fire would not have mattered ; but to have 
prophesied that it would not take place ! The fool ! the 
abject, intolerable fool ! 

Ludgate long survived the Great Fire of London, though the 
flames burnt through the arch and around it, and St. Martin's 
Church, immediately adjacent, suffered so greatly that its 
ruins had to be cleared away for Sir Christopher Wren's 
rebuilding. Like any other old property that had outlived 
its usefulness, the last three of the City's gates save Newgate 
(which stood till 1777) were put up for sale by the Corpora- 
tion on the 30th July, 1760. They were all bought by Mr. 
Blagden, a carpenter of Coleman Street, Ludgate being knocked 
down at £148— -a housebreaker's price for the materials — and 
by the end of September rubbish carts had removed these last 
distinguishing features of London as a walled city. 

Queen Elizabeth's statue, the only fragment of ancient 
Ludgate now to be seen, occupies an honoured but insignificant 
position in Fleet Street, let into the wall at St. Dunstan's 
Church high over the vestry porch. It is much blackened by 
the City's grime, but otherwise unharmed. Evelyn, going 
on foot " through the late Fleet Streete " and up Ludgate 
Hill when the fire had burnt itself out, noticed that Queen 
Elizabeth's effigy, with some arms on Ludgate, survived with 
but little detriment, though the vast iron chains of the city 
streets, and hinges, bars, and gates of the prisons, were many 
of them melted and reduced to cinders by the vehement heat. 
The Virgin Queen holds the sceptre in one hand and the orb 
in the other, and wears the side panniers and farthingale 
and stiff collar which attained their greatest extravagance 
in her reign. She has faced most points of the compass. 
Originally, in her niche on Ludgate, she gazed up Fleet Street 
to Temple Bar. Old St. Dunstan's Church stood out into the 
road, obstructing the way, and when placed on its short tower 
the Queen looked down Fleet Street towards St. Paul's. 
To-day she stares across the street. 

An inscription below records that the figure was given by 
the City to Sir Francis Gosling, Alderman of the Ward of Far- 
ringdon Without, who in the year 1762 caused it to be placed 
on the church exterior. Strype, in his account of the parish 
of St. Bride's, with no further explanation than " Queen 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 361 

Elizabeth Memorial," gives some lines which (with an alteration 
of a word) might well be cut under the statue if ever, in any 
future street improvement, a really adequate site be found 
for it- 
Here lies her Type, who was of late 

The Prop of Belgia, Stay of France, 
Spaine's Foile, Faith's shield, and Queene of State, 

Of Armes, of Learning, Fate, and Chance : 
In briefe, of Women ne're was seene 
So great a Prince, so good a Queene. 

Sith Vertue Her immortall made, 

Death (envying all that cannot dye) 
Her Earthy Parts did so invade, 

As in it wrackt Selfe-Majesty. 
But so her Spirit inspir'd her Parts, 
That she still lives in Loyall Hearts. 

It would appear from Malcolm that the statue at one time 
bore traces of rich colouring, but none are now to be seen. 

Little else survives in Fleet Street that came within the 
actual area swept by the Fire. St. Bride's Church preserves 
its registers, going back to Elizabeth, which were saved from 
the flames ; their unknown but careful custodian during this 
terrible time has placed under deep obligation all who have 
since used them. Apart from these, the church has two relics, 
one being the font, a basin of white marble supported by an 
ornamental shaft of black marble, bearing the arms of the 
Hothersall family. The inscription reads, " Deo et ecclesiae 
ex Dono Henrici Hothersall, a.d. 1615." It is said to have 
been found substantially unharmed after disaster had over- 
whelmed the church, and was replaced in Wren's new building. 
Just within the railing at the churchyard gate is the entrance 
to the Holden family vault, with a coat of arms in stone. 
Holden was a friend of Pepys, the diarist. 

The carving bears date 1657, nine years anterior to the 
Fire. Comparison of its present state with the engraving 
Nathaniel Smith made of this relic in 1795 shows that the stone 
has wasted a good deal during the past century under influence 
of the City's vitiated atmosphere, and black grime has grown 
thickly upon it. The heraldic design is quite distinct. The 
tiny Carmelite vault in Brittons Court, Whitefriars, has earlier 
been alluded to. There is nothing more — not a single memorial 



362 FLEET STREET 

or brass has been saved from the old church and placed 
within St. Bride's ; a matter in which this church compares 
unfavourably with its neighbour, St. Dunstan's. 

St. Bride's Church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren as 
soon as a clearance could be made of the ruins, and the work 
completed in 1680. * The steeple was not finished until 
September, 1703. It is a great misfortune that the church is 
so badly hidden, for among all those with which Wren's genius 
has enriched London there are few so fine as this masterpiece. 
The plan is characteristic. The worshipper enters beneath 
a dark porch in the tower, passing into a vestibule below the 
organ-loft equally dark, and afterwards into the church, which 
by contrast appears to be a blaze of light. 

Its ample proportions seem to be even greater than they are. 
After the first surprise which this view of the interior creates, 
the visitor will note the arrangement of circles and semi- 
circles in its arches, the clerestory windows, the groining of the 
aisle roofs, the richly decorated chancel, and commodious 
galleries. A rosy light is suffused by the stained-glass in the 
great east window. 

The steeple is unsurpassed by anything that Wren has 
accomplished. It is a minor point that it is higher than any 
other of his spires — higher than St. Mary-le-Bow. St. Paul's 
cross alone reaches farther into the sky. Four pierced octag- 
onal storeys rise above the tower, culminating in an obelisk 
and vane. The effect of this graceful structure is exceedingly 
rich. There is only one point at which the steeple can be 
adequately surveyed, in Bride Lane, at the foot of the church- 
yard wall, and there the great mass of white stone looms up 
majestically. It appears to have tremendous height. Its 
pre-eminence among City spires is better appreciated in a 
single glance than by pages of description. 

Fault has been found with the steeple for monotonous 

1 After the Restoration, the Spital sermons were preached at St. 
Bride's, and drew large congregations. Ned Ward, in his Dancing 
School, speaks of a room being " crammed as full of company as St. 
Bride's Church upon the singing of a Spittle psalm at Easter, or an 
anthem on Cicelia's day." The crowding of St. Bride's last century 
led to Trinity Church, by Gough Square, being built in 1837-8, and 
four years later the extra-parochial district of Whitefriars was annexed 
to it ; but the City dwellers have gone farther afield, and Trinity 
Church is now closed, 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 363 

repetition of the same features. Who else but Wren could 
have produced such an effect from monotonous repetition ? 
Indeed, the whole conception is unique. Mr. Mackmurdo, 
in his City Churches, justly says of it : "A steeple reminding 
one of Romanesque towers in North Italy ; yet with what 
added refinement, complexity of form and concentration ! 
For most beautifully united is the circular storied spire to the 
square tower, by the curve of this pediment, the round-headed 
openings of each storey finding a focus point in the round of 
the clock below." 

St. Bride's steeple, 226 feet in height, is eight feet shorter 
than originally built. It was struck by lightning on the 18th 
June, 1764. Only the strength and good workmanship of 
this exquisite tapering building saved it and the church from 
disaster. A flash was followed by a tremendous burst of 
thunder. Lightning, attracted no doubt by the metal ball 
and vane and cross of copper which at that time surmounted 
the stone work, struck the spire at its highest point, and 
travelling downwards to the fourth, or lowest, of the pyramidical 
storeys built upon the tower platform, caused considerable 
damage on its way. 

The vane and cross were held aloft by an iron spindle 20 
feet in length. Lightning ran down the metal, one half the 
length of which was secured in a groove cut in the solid and 
keyed stones forming the obelisk, and where so encased broke 
and forced apart the stones. It then slid along the surface 
of the steeple, wetted by a morning's rain, to the uppermost 
storey, where there was a big explosion. There the greatest 
injury was done, the superstructure being partly blown away 
and left open to the sky. A large stone fell through the church 
roof into the north gallery. Over 70 lbs. in weight, a second 
stone was hurled fifty yards eastward of the tower, and crashed 
through the roof of a dwelling-house. 

In its progress downward the current leapt from one iron 
tie-bar to another, chipping the masonry wherever stone 
touched iron. A pillar was cracked, and part of a cornice 
shattered. Weakening as it went, the lightning finally escaped 
at the lowest storey, leaving a big scar there. No damage 
was sustained by the belfry itself save some chipped stone and 
a broken window. Sir William Staines, the architect consulted 
upon the necessary repairs, reduced the height of the obelisk 



364 FLEET STREET 

by eight feet. The injuries were so extensive that it was found 
necessary to rebuild eighty-five feet of the spire. 

Lightning conductors, now a universal safeguard, were at 
that time little known, and the accident at St. Bride's had 
much to do with their development ; incidentally, too, with a 
most ridiculous controversy in which King George the Third 
and the Royal Society figured. A paper was read before that 
learned body the same year upon the damaged steeple, and is 
printed in the Philosophical Transactions, with several well- 
arranged plates. Alarmed by St. Bride's experience, the Dean 
and Chapter of St. Paul's became anxious for the safety of the 
great cathedral. The Government were in fear for their 
magazines stored with gunpowder at Purfleet, in the event 
of a lightning stroke. Both requested the opinion of the Royal 
Society on the best method of fixing electrical conductors, 
and a committee of five reported in favour of sharply pointed 
conductors, Mr. Wilson alone dissenting, and advocating 
blunt knobs as most efficacious in attracting the current. 

Incredible as it seems, this was made the subject of heated 
political dispute. Benjamin Franklin had invented the 
pointed conductor. The philosophers having failed after some 
years to settle the question, the uninformed populace became 
partisans, and in the midst of our quarrels with America the 
advocates of pointed conductors (because of their origin) 
were identified with the insurgent colonists and denounced 
as disaffected subjects, the " blunt knobs " being the true 
loyalists. More extraordinary was the interference of George 
the Third, who, not on scientific grounds, but from political 
motives, took up Wilson's theories, had blunt conductors fixed 
upon his palace, and even endeavoured to make the Royal 
Society rescind their resolution in favour of sharp points. 

Sir John Pringle was President of the Royal Society, then 
housed in Crane Court, Fleet Street, and the King, granting 
him audience, earnestly entreated him to use his influence for 
the " blunt knobs." Pringle's reply was highly honourable 
to himself and to the Society. Duty as well as inclination, he 
observed, would always induce him to execute his Majesty's 
wishes to the utmost of his power ; but " Sire," said he, '* I 
cannot reverse the laws and operations of Nature." 1 " Then," 



1 Weld's History of the Royal Society, ii, 101 



PLAGUE AND THE GREAT FIRE 365 

replied the King, " you are not fit to be President of the Royal 
Society ! " 
A friend of Benjamin Franklin wrote this epigram — 
While you, great George, for knowledge hunt, 
And sharp conductors change for blunt, 

The nation's out of joint : 
Franklin a wiser course pursues, 
And all your thunder useless views, 
By keeping to the point. 

The steeple has not been fortunate. It was struck by 
lightning a second time in 1803, and again about 1887. There 
is an internal staircase up to the highest storey, from which 
the patient climber is rewarded with a rare view over the 
City's expanse, with the great dome and cross of St. Paul's 
as the most prominent objects in the foreground. 

St. Bride's belfry is remarkable for having the unusual 
number of twelve bells, and often their melodious peal causes 
the passer-by in Fleet Street to stop and listen. 

A fragment of Pepys lore. The diarist enters under date the 
18th March, 1663[-4]— 

To the church, and with the gravemaker to chose a place for my 
brother to lie in just under my mother's pew. But — to see how a man's 
bones are at the mercy of such a fellow, that for sixpence he would 
(as his own words were) — " I will jostle them together, but I will make 
room for him." Speaking of the fulness of the middle aisle where he 
was to lie. 

No church is particularised in the diary, but this was old 
St. Bride's, and the corpse was that of Samuel Pepys's brother 
Thomas. Mr. A. W. Peart, the parish clerk, pointed out to 
me the entry in the burial register — 

March 18, 1663[-4].— Mr. Thomas Pepyes. 

And here is the record of the christening, in the same church, 
of the diarist himself — 

March 3, 1632[-3]. — Samuell sonn to John Peapis, wyef Margaret. 

Samuel Pepys was born on the 23rd February, 1632[-3], 
and this entry of the christening settles, I think, one point in 
dispute. Samuel Pepys was a Londoner. 



CHAPTER XVI 

BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 

As if the Fire had not only purged the city, the buildings are infinitely 
more beautiful, more commodious, more solid (the three main 
virtues of all edifices) than before. They have made their streets 
much more large and straight, paved on each side with smooth 
freestone, and guarded the same with many massy posts for the 
benefit of foot passengers ; and whereas before they dwelt in low, 
dark, wooden houses, they now live in lofty, lightsome, uniform, 
and very stately brick buildings. — The Present State of London, 1681. 

The returning Londoner who came into Fleet Street six 
years after the Great Fire noticed many changes. He had 
taken few steps beyond Wren's Temple Bar, itself a new thing, 
before his attention was sharply arrested. I fancy it will 
be news to most people that the famous mechanical clock of 
St. Dunstan's Church still exists, and, moreover, keeps excellent 
time. Its proj ecting dial and the two giants who beat the hours 
and quarter-hours with clubs upon the bells made one of the 
sights of Fleet Street for more than a century and a half. 
The automata passed out of the street eighty years ago, and 
like much else have been forgotten. 

• In their day they were considered wonderful. Contemporary 
writers often made mention of them. Sir Walter Scott knew 
the clock, though his recollection when far away from London 
seemed singularly confused. " The twa iron carles yonder, 
at the kirk beside the Port, were just banging out sax o' the 
clock," observes Richard Moni plies in The Fortunes of Nigel ; 
and Jenkin Vincent, the boisterous apprentice, makes fun of 
Nigel's Scottish retainer as he stands before the church staring 
in amazement — 

Look at that strange fellow — see how he gapes at every shop, as if 
he would swallow the wares — O ! St. Dunstan has caught his eye ; 
pray God he swallow not the images. See how he stands astonished, 
as old Adam and Eve ply their ding-dong. 

Scott, as I have already said, placed the figures in Fleet 
Street half a century before their time. Adam and Eve they 
could not be mistaken for, as they are undeniably masculine, 
and nude almost to impropriety. They are stiff in motion when 
the clubs come down with a thwack as moved by the clockwork 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 367 

mechanism, and clothed only in loincloths and of ferocious 
aspect, they more aptly fulfil Strype's description as " two 
savages or Hercules." 

Oliver Goldsmith, who lived so much about Fleet Street, has 
a reference to the clock. Mr. Thornhill told the Vicar of Wake- 
field's party with an oath that he never knew anything more 
absurd than calling Miss Wilmot a beauty : "' For strike me 
ugly,' continued he, * if I^should not find as much pleasure in 
choosing my mistress by the information of a lamp under the 
clock of St. Dunstan's.' " Congreve, too, in Love for Love, 
recalls the street's wonder show — 

Sir Sampson Legend. — They shall be married to a minute . . . and 
when the alarum strikes, they shall keep time like the figures of St. 
Dunstan's, and consummatum est shall ring all over the parish. 

Wycherley, Ned Ward, and others might also be cited to 
whose sense of the marvellous or the grotesque St. Dunstan's 
giants appealed. 

The Church escaped the Great Fire of London, and the clock 
and its mechanical figures were amongst the earliest features 
introduced to the newly-built street. The dial, double-faced, 
stood far out over the pavement, giving the time to those 
entering or leaving the City. A small building forming an 
upper storey to the south aisle contained the mechanism, the 
bells, and the attendant strikers with raised clubs. The 
clock was made by Mr. Thomas Harrys, living at the end of 
Water Lane, and was set up on the 28th October, 1671, 
replacing one of earlier date — no doubt " the dyall " of Queen 
Elizabeth's day. The ingenious Mr. Harrys had offered in May 
of that year to build a new clock with chimes, and to erect two 
figures of men with poleaxes, whose office should be to strike 
the quarters. " I will do one thing more," he said, " which 
London shall not show the like ; I will make two hands show 
the hours and minutes without the church, upon a double 
dial, which will be worth your observation, and to my credit." 

All this he proposed to perform, and to keep in order, for 
the remuneration of £80 and the old clock. The vestry, as 
appears by their minutes, only paid him £35, with the old 
clock thrown in, for so much of his plan as they thought proper 
to adopt, so that, thanks to this grudging parsimony, famous 
as the automata became, they did not represent the full fruition 
of Mr. Harrys' horological skill. 



368 FLEET STREET 

The Earl of Londesborough, their present custodian, kindly 
gave me leave to inspect the giants at St. Dunstan's, Regent's 
Park, his town house ; and there, like any of the gaping 
sightseers of generations long since dead and gone who have 
stopped in the street to watch their antics, I stood before 
these time-honoured relics, which in their day had been a cause 
of wonderment to young and old. With the dial projecting 
over the gravelled path, the frame of masonry containing the 
giants and the bells has been rebuilt on the garden front, 
just as it was in the old church, and as the sun goes his daily 
round still the clubs beat the hours and quarter hours. 

The story of the clock's preservation is soon told. The 
third Marquis of Hertford, when a small and impressionable 
boy, was taken to see the clock at St. Dunstan's Church. His 
delight in the working figures inspired visions of the joy of 
ultimate possession, and he declared, " When I am a man I 
will buy that clock, and put it up in my house." Early last 
century Marylebone Park became converted into Regent's 
Park, and the Crown reserved portions of the land for terrace- 
houses and villas. A site of six acres was taken on lease by 
Lord Hertford, who built a villa there. It happened that this 
very year, 1830, old St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street came 
down for rebuilding, and in the new plan, which placed the 
church farther back and allowed for a considerable widening 
of the highway, the clock and giants had no part. 

Lord Hertford, then grown a man, seized the opportunity 
to fulfil his boyish wish. For the clock, the bells, the club- 
bearing giants, and the storey in which they were framed, 
together with the ancient statues of King Lud and his two 
sons, which had been removed when Ludgate was demolished 
in the previous century and made a gift to the St. Dunstan's 
Vestry, he offered 200 guineas. That sum was accepted, 1 
and the trophies were carted to Regent's Park. Moxon says 
their removal drew tears from the eyes of Charles Lamb. 

Lord Hertford called his new house St. Dunstan's, after the 
church, and there he placed the clock, as it stands to-day, 
the structure below bearing niches in which are King Lud 



1 St. Dunstan's Vestry minutes, 1830, Oct. 22nd. Notes and Queries, 
7th Ser. i, 214. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 369 

and his sons. These three stone effigies are much mutilated, 
and show indications of scorching by the flames of 1666. 

Mr. Wheatley thinks it likely that Harrys got his idea for 
the clock from similar figures which had previously done duty 
at St. Paul's, and as early as 1609 were counted among the 
London sights. Thus the GulVs Hornbook of that year : " But 
howsoever, if Paul's Jacks be once up with their elbows, and 
quarelling to strike eleven, as soon as ever the clock has parted 
them, and ended the fray with his hammer, let not the Duke's 
Gallery contain you any longer " ; and there is also mention 
of the rival "Jacks" in 1604. 1 St. Dunstan's giants, now 
black, were in former times gaudily painted and gilt. They 
served Cowper in an effective simile for bad poetasters — 

When labour and when dulness, club in hand, 

Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand, 

Beating alternately, in measur'd time, 

The clockwork tintinabulum of rhyme, 

Exact and regular the sounds will be, 

But such mere quarter strokes are not for me. 

The Londoner, having stared his fill at the mechanical clock 
and passed on, would next have noticed about Fetter Lane a 
sharp division between old and new in the style of building. 
Let Charles the Second at least be given credit for great ideas. 
Riding on horseback about London, he had watched the sad 
spectacle of his capital burning. It was his aim and desire, 
declared in his Proclamation to the citizens, to see a new city 
rise, " so ornamented as should make it appear to the world, 
rather as purged with the fire (in how lamentable a manner 
soever) to a wonderful beauty and comeliness, than consumed 
by it." He had included Fleet Street, with Cheapside and 
Cornhill, among the " eminent and notorious streets " which 
should be rebuilt " of such width as might, with God's blessing, 
prevent the mischief that one side may suffer if the other be 
on fire." 2 

His was an easy-going soul. In the Library of St. Paul's 
is shown to the visitor the book of subscriptions for the 
rebuilding of the great Cathedral, opened by his Sacred Majesty 
with an annual donation of £1,000. The entry is writ large 



1 H. B. Wheatley, London Past and Present, i, 537. 

2 Historical Charters, City of London, Ed. Birch, pp. 224-34. 
24— (2246) 



370 FLEET STREET 

in the Royal hand. But no one has found the entry for the 
second thousand. There was the lack of practical concern 
to which is due, in no small measure, the fact that London has 
come down through the centuries as it is, not as it might have 
been. 

A Court of judges, with Sir Mathew Hale as president, 
sat in the old hall of Clifford's Inn, just on the edge where the 
Fire burnt, to decide claims arising out of disputed boundaries 
and lost landmarks, but they were commissioned to do no more 
than their limited charge. 

Had Sir Christopher Wren's plan for a model city, drawn 
by the King's command, been carried out, nothing of old Fleet 
Street and its northern environs would now be recognisable. 
Wren planned a perfectly straight thoroughfare, ninety feet wide, 
extending from St. Paul's over Fleet Bridge — where Ludgate 
Circus opens — to St. Dunstan's, and continuing on the north 
side of that church, with a road curving off at the church 
through Temple Bar to the Strand. All Clifford's Inn would 
have gone. Just above Shoe Lane, where now the offices of 
the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Chronicle face one another, 
he placed a large circular piazza, of a diameter four times the 
width of the street. Through this, at right angles to Fleet 
Street, a new main road, also perfectly straight, was to lead 
north to Holborn and south to the Thames ; and along the 
river bank he projected a public quay and promenade even 
more ambitious than the Victoria Embankment, for it would 
have stretched from the Temple Gardens throughout the 
City's length to the Tower of London. 

An octagonal course of streets was designed to surround the 
piazza, forming an outer ring, and the whole plan being 
geometrical, every existing street and court as far west as Fetter 
Lane would have been swept away. This feature was common 
to the plans both of Wren and John Evelyn — the drawings 
make them plain. In place of Ludgate, the living tide of 
traffic passing into the City should enter through a triumphal 
arch erected in honour of King Charles the Second, the founder 
of New London. 

But it was not to be, and I cannot profess to be sorry. The 
scheme was too stupendous for the citizens, reduced in numbers 
by the plague and ruined in fortune by the Fire, and for their 
careless King. London has not been Hausmannised, like Paris. 




Wren's Plan for Rebuilding London 



372 FLEET STREET 

Its streets follow the lines of the ancient city. Landowners 
clung tenaciously to their separate plots, anxious only to put 
London on its foundations again, and would wait neither for 
Wren nor Evelyn. They built at once on the old sites ; and 
so it has come about that nearly all the winding courts and 
alleys known before the Great Fire are exactly reproduced 
in Fleet Street to-day. Except that at the " bottle-neck " 
between the Conduit and Fleet Bridge the roadway, before 
dangerously narrow, was made as broad as the other part, 
the Mayor being entrusted to take away the necessary land, 1 
and in the entirely new style of buildings, there was, indeed, 
but little change. 

Charles the Second ordered by Proclamation, the 13th 
September, 1666, that henceforth no house should be built of 
timber. Much else intended to beautify the City was dis- 
regarded in the hurry of the time, but this at least was ojfeyed, 
and by a stroke of the Royal pen a quiet revolutioipin the 
architecture of the capital was brought about. London from 
that day passed clear of the tradition of centuries. I am not 
saying that to an artist's eye the new plan was an improvement. 
The flat facade of stone or brick and square coping which were 
generally introduced after the Great Fire, admirable though 
they may be when well proportioned, were chilling in their 
plainness. The casement, with its unique gift for ornamenta- 
tion, was but poorly replaced by the flat, oblong window with 
sashes. The gable, too, always a charming feature of design, 
disappeared. 

I have said that the city destroyed in the Great Fire of 
London was not that of King Charles the Second, but a city 
much older. I have said that Fleet Street had not in Eliza- 
beth's reign the straight-built frontage with which we are 
familiar ; the houses packed so close together that from Fetter 
Lane to Shoe Lane there is not space to place a half-crown 
between them. Nor had it this character at the Restoration. 
The Orders in Council of 1666 tell that several late inhabitants 



1 State Papers (Domestic), 1667, Mar. 21st. The varying width of 
old Fleet Street is shown in the reduction by John Leeke of a survey 
made by six architects immediately after the Great Fire of London 
(Add. MS., 5415, E. I. British Museum) : Temple Bar to Fetter Lane, 
37 ft. ; thence to Water Lane, 70 ft. ; thence to Bride's Court, 63 ft. ; 
thence to Bride Lane, 32 ft. ; and to Fleet Bridge, 23 ft. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 



373 



of Fleet Street whose houses had stood back, after the Fire 
petitioned the Lord Mayor and Aldermen that in rebuilding 
they might be permitted to bring them forward to make the 
line of the street continuous. Inquiry having been set on foot 
and reference made to the Council, the prayer of the petition 
was allowed. 2 This done, and not before, we arrive at modern 
Fleet Street. 

Old London, however, of the days of timber houses with 




Evelyn's Plan for Rebuilding London 



plaster fronts and gable roofs, long after the Great Fire re- 
mained pictured in the length between Fetter Lane and Temple 
Bar. For a time the rebuilt area seems to have been called 
New Fleet Street. That was the name Will Warde, landlord 
of the Unicorn Tavern, impressed upon his tokens in 1667 ; 2 
but the foolish idea of loading the title of an historic street in 
such fashion was, happily, soon abandoned. Fleet Street, 
as rebuilt, evidently had few charms for the print-makers, 
and engravings of it are rare. 

1 Historical Charters, City of London, Ed. Birch, p. 233. 

2 Beaufoy Collection at Guildhall. 



374 FLEET STREET 

The timber-framed houses towards Temple Bar stood 
throughout the seventeenth century, and many through the 
eighteenth, and being happily appreciated in an artistic age, 
their outward features are preserved in quite a number of 
prints. It is curious that almost all that made the street 
famous after the Fire was congregated in this short stretch of 
buildings that escaped the flames. The rest was merely 
commercial, and the writer upon Fleet Street finds its history 
till the newspapers came, not in the highway, but in the side 
courts. All the popular tavern resorts, the Devil, the King's 
Head, the Cock, and the Mitre, were grouped about the long 
shadow cast by the setting sun from Temple Bar ; the coffee- 
houses, Nando's, the Rainbow, Dick's, and the rest ; Child's 
and Goslings' banks ; and much else that will provide story 
and anecdote for later pages. 

None of Old London's buildings is more familiar by illustra- 
tion than the glorious old timber house at the Chancery Lane 
comer erected in King Henry the Eighth's reign, or earlier, 
and not destroyed until 1799, when the Corporation widened 
that thoroughfare. It was constructed entirely of oak, the 
heavy frames filled in with lath and plaster, and with over- 
hanging storeys, gable roof, and elaborate carving covering 
the front, made a most picturesque pile. This is said to 
have been the famous King's Head Tavern, though in its 
last years the sign borne was The Harrow. It is best known as 
" Izaak Walton's house," which certainly it was not. 

Many books upon London repeat this misdescription ; its 
persistence is doubtless due to the fact that an engraving 
of this delightful corner house appears in every edition of 
The Compleat Angler. Walton's shop was at the more modest 
building adjoining, two doors west from Chancery Lane. 1 
He came into Fleet Street in 1624 after leaving the Royal 
Exchange, and as he was joint occupier with John Mason, 
one may conclude that half the shop sufficed for his own hosiery 
business. In the year 1632 Walton moved into Chancery 
Lane, seven doors up on the left-hand side, where his trade 



1 The site is definitely fixed by a deed bearing date 1624, cited by 
Sir John Hawkins in his Life of Walton, Ed. 1792, pp. viii, ix, as next 
door to the old timber-built corner house. I note that the 
misdescription is repeated in the London Museum. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 375 

was described as milliner-sempster, or dealer in shirts. After- 
wards his house there became the Mitre tavern. The present 
Mitre in Chancery Lane covers the site. 

In Chancery Lane Izaak Walton's wife died in 1640 ; the 
mother of his seven children, none of whom survived infancy. 
Three years after, when fifty, he retired from shopkeeping, 
to spend the rest of his long life in the country, angling, when 
his pleasure so bent, in quiet waters the delight of which he 
has taught to countless thousands coming after him. Stout 
Royalist and Churchman, and a most active parish officer, 
there is much likelihood that the position was made impossible 
for him in the troubled years of the Civil War. The charm of 
The Compleat Angler will never fade. • Charles Lamb wrote : 
" It would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it ; 
it would Christianise every discordant, angry passion." Leigh 
Hunt's impassioned tirade against its cruelty falls harmlessly 
aside. To those who dissent I fling back Walton's prefaratory 
repudiation, " If thou be a severe, sour-complexioned man, 
then I here disallow thee to be a competent judge." 

Izaak Walton, ten years after he had left London, sent his 
Compleat Angler , in 1653, to be published by Richard Marriot 
at his shop in Fleet Street by St. Dunstan's Church. The 
quaint advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus runs — 

There is published a Booke of Eighteen-pence called the Compleat 
Angler, or the Contemplative man's Recreation ; being a Discourse on 
Fish and Fishing. Not unworthy the perusal of most anglers. Sold 
by Richard Marriot in St. Dunstan's Churchyard, Flete-street. 

A copy of this rare first-edition, price Is. 6d., bound in 
original sheepskin, and once the treasure of Frederick Lockyer- 
Lampson, realised £1,290 in the Van Antwerp sale of 1907. 
I have yet to trace Milton's footsteps in St. Bride's, but it 
may be recalled here that Marriot was one of the many book- 
sellers whose names appeared on the title-page of Paradise 
Lost (price 3s.) as agents of Samuel Simmons ; and that in 
Fleet Street a little work of Milton's first saw publication, 
the poet's unimportant Latin Grammar, " Printed for S. S. 
[doubtless Samuel Simmons] and are to be sold by John 
Starkey at the Miter in Fleet Street, next Temple Bar, 1669." 1 

Nathaniel Smith has preserved in another engraving, bearing 
date 1793, the characteristic exterior of an ancient house 

1 F. A. Mumby, The Romance of Bookselling, p. 169. 



376 FLEET STREET 

which stood in Fleet Street until the close of the eighteenth 
century, at the western corner of Clifford's Inn Passage. Like 
the more pretentious City merchant's mansion built over 
Inner Temple Gate, and recently restored, it appears to have 
dated from the reign of King James the First, and its only 
known tenant who made any stir in the world was Mrs. Salmon, 
whose wax-work show for fully a century was one of the sights 
of the town — 

Tall Polygars 

Dwarf Zanzibars 
Mahomed's Tomb, Killarney's Lake, the Fane of Ammon, 
With all thy Kings and Queens, ingenious Mrs. Salmon ! x 

In what year the wax-work was removed from Aldersgate 
into Fleet Street is unknown, but it is interesting to find Mrs. 
Salmon's handbills stating that the new position was " a more 
convenient place for the coaches of the quality to stand 
unmolested." Of this lady there is more to be said later. 

About Temple Bar the few surviving relics of the age before 
the Great Fire of London include the fine row of buildings at 
the entrance of Middle Temple Lane, with projecting fronts 
of lath and rough plaster. They continued a line of similar 
houses on the western side of Hare Court, which was destroyed 
in a Temple conflagration of 1679. Others in Clifford's Inn 
have been already mentioned. A couple of small dwellings of 
the Stuart period just outside Temple Bar have been saved, and 
a picturesque old bulk-head shop, dating from King Henry the 
Eighth, stood next to the bar, north side, till the middle of 
last century. Wych Street and Holywell Street, so rich in 
timber gabled houses, are a fading memory. 

Long a hardy race of booksellers flourished in Fleet Street, 
and they, too, occupied the old shops near Temple Bar spared 
by the Fire, never moving far from St. Dunstan's. None 
is assured more enduring fame than Jacob Tonson. He set 
up under the sign of The Judge's Head in Chancery Lane, only 
a few doors from Fleet Street, in 1678, and there published 
some of Otway's plays. There, too, began his association with 
Dry den, whose Troilus and Cressida he gave to the world 
in 1679. Tonson is remembered by a larger public than 

1 Probationary Odes for the Laur e ate ship , 1785. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 377 

bibliophiles by three furious lines which Dryden wrote of him 
when payments were delayed — surely the most terrible portrait 
of a man that was ever compressed into so few words, and 
scrawled, by way of added insult, under a print that Tonson 
had been vain enough to issue of himself — 

With leering looks, bull-faced, and freckled fair, 
With two left legs and Judas-coloured hair, 
And frowzy pores, that taint the ambient air. 

" Tell the dog that he who wrote those lines can write more," 
said Dryden to the messenger who carried them. There is no 
record that Tonson asked for more. Mutual interest, the 
strongest of all ties, still brought poet and bookseller together. 
Many of the letters which passed between Dryden and Tonson 
have been printed, and reading them, one does not entirely 
love Dryden, entirely loathe Tonson. 

In one of his quarrels about money the Laureate wrote to 
Tonson : " Some kind of intercourse must be carried on betwixt 
us while I am translating Virgil. Therefore I give you notice 
that I have done the seventh JEneid in the country ; and intend, 
some few days hence, to go upon the eighth ; when that is 
finished, I expect fifty pounds in good silver ; not such as I 
have had formerly. I am not obliged to take gold, neither 
will I ; nor stay for it beyond four-and-twenty hours after it is 
due. ... I told Mr. Congreave that I knew you too well to 
believe you meant me any kindness." Dryden, in his anger, 
could not or would not realise that Tonson was himself suffering 
from the debased coinage of the time as much as anybody. 

Tonson's contemporaries made busy with his character. 
Probably none more closely approached the truth than John 
Dutton when writing of Tonson five years after Dryden's 
death in 1700 : " He was the bookseller to the famous Dryden, 
and is himself a very good judge of persons and authors ; and 
as there is nobody more competently qualified to give their 
opinion upon one another, so there is none who does it with 
a more severe exactness, or with less partiality ; for to do Mr. 
Tonson justice, he speaks his mind upon all occasions." Yet 
he pocketed Dryden's insults, gently flattered him in his letters, 
and from his shop in Chancery Lane close by the Fleet Street 
corner published the poet's translations in verse and dramatic 
pieces for twenty years. 

Not in itself an attribute of greatness, but at least evidence 



378 FLEET STREET 

of shrewdness in the business man ; for Tonson realised the 
change that had come about. The publisher having mastered 
the printer after a severe struggle, was in turn to be himself 
mastered. Less than a century before, the author had looked 
almost wholly to the patron for reward. John Stow, for 
his Survey of London, received £3 and forty printed copies. 
Shakespeare depended upon the theatre for his profits, and 
thought so little of sales that sixteen of his plays remained 
unpublished until seven years after his death. John Milton's 
receipts for Paradise Lost, published in 1667, were £10 ; 
Simmons, the printer, afterwards acquired from his widow all 
remaining rights for an additional £8. So rapid and startling 
was the change in the position of authorship, that within thirty 
years of Paradise Lost Dryden was able to obtain from 
Tonson and his subscribers £1,200 for his translation of Virgil ; 
and Pope in less than another twenty years received over 
£5,000 for the Iliad. 

It may be that Dr. Johnson did not libel the booksellers when 
(Life of Dryden) he spoke of their general conduct as much less 
liberal in those times than in his own, their views narrower, 
their manners grosser. Tonson had no great consideration 
for the small fry of authorship. But the fault cannot be attri- 
buted wholly to one side. The author who could command a 
popular following at the close of the seventeenth century 
for the first time came by his own, and his use (and more often 
abuse) of his newly- found position of wealth and independence 
explains the calamities and quarrels which made the relations 
of authors and booksellers so extremely bitter, and the attacks 
upon the latter, of which The Dunciad is the most unpleasant 
example. 

Jacob Tonson left Chancery Lane about the time of Dry den's 
death. He published there Addison's Poems to his Majesty 
(1695), and afterwards other works by Addison and Congreave 
at Gray's Inn Gate and the Strand, but I cannot follow him 
over the years to his death at a great age in 1736. He had 
become secretary of the Kit-Kat Club, founded in Shire Lane, 
Temple Bar, about 1700, and must have had some clubable 
qualities ; it has, indeed, been supposed that that famous 
club owed its origin to suppers given by Tonson to his literary 
friends. He needs no rehabilitation. Dryden himself became 
more kind. Having sent Alexander's Feast to Tonson at 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 379 

The Judged Head, the poet wrote, " I hope it has done you 
service, and will do more." Pope promised to show Lord 
Oxford a phenomenon worth seeing, " Old Jacob Tonson, 
who is a perfect image and likeness of Bayle's Dictionary, 
so full of matter, secret history, and wit and spirit, at almost 
fourscore. " The old bookseller left a fortune of £40,000. 

" At The Cross Keys and Cushion, next Nando's Coffee- 
house, Temple Bar," Bernard Lintot had established himself 
about the year 1698 as Tonson's friendly rival. He, too, is 
best known as the publisher of a great poet — Alexander Pope. 
The site of his shop, beyond that it lay between the Temple 
Gates in Fleet Street, was long in dispute, but now that Nando's 
coffee-rooms are known to have been in the same building as 
The Rainbow, and on the floor immediately above, it can be 
fixed pretty accurately west of Inner Temple Gate. 

Pope's Rape of the Lock and some other pieces were 
printed in Lintot's Miscellanies in 1712. A twelvemonth later 
their close relations began with the acceptance of Lintot's 
terms for publication of the Iliad. Pope, at least, was no 
child in business. He chose the publisher who offered the 
biggest price ; the terms being £200 for each of six volumes 
that were to appear, copies to be supplied free of cost for all 
Pope's subscribers. The poet himself, aided by Swift and many 
friends, had been busy in obtaining subscribers in advance, 
and so successful were these literary bagmen that although 
Pope could claim from his publisher only £1,200, his receipts, 
according to Johnson, were £5,300. 

Bernard Lintot stands out as an entirely blameless person ; 
last of all publishers to awaken feelings of malice, hatred, or 
uncharitableness. He issued from The Cross Keys and Cushion 
the Iliad in successive volumes at one guinea each, the 
first in June, 1715, and the last in May, 1720. Other poems 
came from the same house ; then Pope found cause for 
the inevitable quarrel in the publication of the Odyssey. 
Pope's net profits were £4,500, less about £700 payments to his 
collaborators, Elijah Fen ton and William Broome. The 
poet again bargained for free copies for all his subscribers. 
Lintot refused to burden himself by providing free copies for 
Broome's subscribers as well. Pope stormed, and called him 
a scoundrel and a wretch. Lintot threatened a suit in Chancery. 
Pope then separated from his publisher, whose portrait he drew 



380 FLEET STREET 

unpleasantly in The Dunciad, and could not even leave 
Jacob Tonson's unfortunate " left legs " out of it — 

As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse 
On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops ; 
So lab'ring on, with shoulders, hands, and head, 
Wide as a windmill all his figure spread, 
With arms expanded, Bernard rows his state, 
And left-legg'd Jacob seems to emulate. 

Lintot also published at Inner Temple Gate Gay's well-known 
Trivia and The Wife of Bath, and the works of many 
another poet and playwright. He was able to retire from 
business soon after the attack in The Dunciad in 1728. 

The brutal side of the publisher's business was exemplified 
in Edmund Curll, who could boast of authors in his pay lying 
three in a bed at the Pewter Platter Inn in Holborn." Ever 
ready to give offence as to take it, he struck out in retaliation 
for every blow that he himself received. He was three times 
brought under arrest before the Houses of Parliament ; he 
certainly was condemned to the pillory ; but the story that he 
lost his ears is false. Curll, too, was among the booksellers 
about Temple Bar for twelve or fifteen years, during which 
time occurred those incidents that gave him the most pain in 
his eventful life. His title-pages show that he was at The 
Peacock outside Temple Bar, in 1706, and at the Post House at 
Middle Temple Gate in 1708 ; a couple of years later he had 
removed to The Dial and Bible against St. Dunstan's Church, 
a shop formerly kept by a well-known bookseller, A. Bosvill, 
and there he remained certainly until 1718 ; his address in 
1720 was next the Temple Coffee-house in Fleet Street. 

Curll's press was frankly licentious when indecency was the 
vice of the age. It has been said that the books issued by him 
were gross and immoral and nothing else, but that is not the 
case. Frequent changes of residence indicate that, with all 
his tricks and ingenuity, he was not a successful trades- 
man. John Nichols (Literary Anecdotes) held that Curll's 
memory had been transmitted to posterity with an obloquy 
more severe than he deserved — his memory being enshrined in 
lines in The Dunciad, wherein Pope describes his prostrate 
rival — 

Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray'd, 
Fall'n in the plash his wickedness had laid. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 381 

Pope's long-standing quarrel with Curll began with the appear- 
ance in 1716, when the bookseller was established under 
St. Dunstan's Church, of a slim volume called The Court 
Poems. Mysterious hints were given out that these might 
be by Gay, or Pope, or a Lady of Quality — the actual writer 
was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. How far Pope approved 
or knew of this publication remains one of the unsolved 
mysteries of literature. Learning from Bernard Lintot that 
Curll had something to do with it, though his name did not 
appear, Pope sought an interview, with a resulting memorable 
scene in the Swan Tavern in Fleet Street. 

The matter is recorded in lively fashion by Pope in " A Full 
and True Account of a Horrid and Barbarous Revenge by 
Poison on the Body of Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller ; with a 
faithful Copy of his last Will and Testament." This reads 
like a got-up story solely intended to make Curll ridiculous ; 
but it would seem that, whether Pope did or did not contrive 
that an emetic should be administered to his bookseller antago- 
nist, Curll believed, or professed to believe, that the fact was so. 
The victim's own account was afterwards printed in The 
Curliad, by way of reply to Pope's attack. He says — 

About the year 1715[-16] . . . these Pieces were published by Mr. 
James Roberts, near the Oxford Arms in Warwick Lane, under the 
Title of The Court Poems. The Profit arising from the sale was equally 
to be divided between Mr. John Oldmixon, Mr. John Pemberton (a 
book-seller of Parliamentary Note in Fleet Street, though he has not 
had the good fortune to be immortalised in the Dunciad) and myself. 
And I am sure my brother Lintot will, if asked, declare this to be 
the same state of the Case I laid before Mr. Pope, when he sent for me 
to the Swan Tavern in Fleet Street to enquire after this publication. 
My brother Lintot drunk his half Pint of Old Hock, Mr. Pope his half 
Pint of Sack, and I the same quantity of an Emetic Potion (which 
was the punishment referred to by our commentator) but no threaten- 
ings past. Mr. Pope, indeed, said, that Satires should not be printed 
(tho' he has now changed his mind) . I answered, that they should not 
be wrote, for if they were they would be printed. He replied, Mr. Gay's 
Interest at Court would be greatly hurt by publishing these Pieces. 
This was all that passed in our Triumvirate. We then parted, Pope 
and my brother Lintot went together, to his shop, and I went home 
and vomited heartily. I then despised the action, and have since in 
another manner sufficiently Purged the author of it. 

In that same unfortunate year, 1716, Curll was in serious 
trouble farther west. The learned, pious, and witty Robert 
South, Prebendary of Westminster and Canon of Christ Church, 



382 FLEET STREET 

Oxford, died. Over his body the captain of the King's Scholars 
at Westminster School delivered a Latin oration. Cur 11 
surreptitiously obtained a copy, and without permission asked 
published it, believing that the celebrity of South's name 
would sell the sheet. In an evil day he lost his bearings in 
Dean's Yard. There he was recognised by the Westminster 
boys, seized, tossed in a blanket, submitted to the indignity 
of a flagellation, and finally kicked out of the place amid the 
ribald laughter and huzzas of the young barbarians. The 
satirists made busy ; especially the author of a sixteen-page 
account of the incident, which Mr. Thomas has reprinted — 1 

Oh ! how the happy urchins laugh 'd, 

To think they'd maul'd thee fore and aft : 

'Tis such a sensible affront ! 

Why, Pope will make an epic on't ! 

Bernard will chuckle at thy moan, 

And all the booksellers in town 

From Tonson down to Boddington. 

Fleet Street and Temple Bar around, 

The Strand and Holborn, this shall sound : 

For ever this shall grate thine ear, 

" Which is the way to Westminster." 

Honest Bernard Lintot's physical peculiarities did not 
escape the satirist. Curll was scarcely allowed human form. 
Thomas Amory draws his portrait in splashes of ink : " He 
was in person very tall and thin — an ungainly, awkward, 
white-faced man. His eyes were a light grey — large, projecting, 
goggle, and purblind. He was splay-footed and baker-kneed. 
He talked well on some subjects, and was not an infidel. He 
was a debauchee to the last degree, and so injurious to society, 
that by filling his translations with wretched notes, forged 
letters, and bad pictures, he raised the price of a four-shilling 
book to ten. He likewise printed the lewdest things. As to 
drink, he was too fond of money to spend any in making 
himself happy in that way ; but at another's expense he would 
drink every day until he was quite blind and as incapable 
as a block. This was Edmund Curll." 

Gulliver's Travels went out to the world from Fleet Street. 
In the early eighteenth century Benjamin Motte, an honest 
bookseller established near Temple Bar, published there works 

1 Notes and Queries, 2nd Ser., ii, 361. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 383 

by Swift, Pope, Arbuthnot, and Gay. His imprint is " at the 
Middle Temple Gate," and probably his business was conducted 
from a little shop which stood under the gate, and was removed 
by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple about 1820 
in order to widen the approach. 1 Swift surrounded the 
publication with a vast deal of mystery. The manuscript of 
Lemuel Gulliver's immortal adventures he sent from Twicken- 
ham (he was staying with Pope) by Charles Ford, who, on his 
instructions, left the packet at Motte's shop late one night 
in November, 1726. Afterwards Swift wrote to Motte under 
the disguised name of R. Sympson, asking that upon under- 
taking publication he would deliver a bank bill for 
£200 to Erasmus Lewis, another intermediary whom he 
employed. 

The cautious bookseller demurred until he knew the sales, 
but agreed to pay the sum demanded in six months " if the 
success would allow it." In the following April Swift sent 
Lewis to demand the money " for his cousin Gulliver's book." 
It was promptly paid. As the author appears to have received 
no more than this £200, Motte must have done well by the 
bargain. The two had some differences later on the subject 
of Irish copyright, but Swift, who scattered his works between 
a great number of booksellers both in London and Dublin, 
constantly maintained friendly relations with Motte, whom he 
utilised at times as a sort of London agent. 2 

With these big names the booksellers of the period gathered 
within Temple Bar are by no means exhausted. At "The 
Black Boy, opposite St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street," 
Arthur Collins in 1709 brought out the first edition of his 
Peerage. Often revised and enlarged, it remained a standard 
authority long after his death half a century later. Carlyle 
acknowledged that when writing his Cromwell he " got a great 
deal of help out of poor Collins," whom he called " a diligent 
and dark London bookseller of about a hundred years ago, 
a very meritorious man " ; he thought the volume " a very 
poor Peerage as a work of genius, but an excellent book for 
diligence and fidelity." Collins, an indefatigable genealogist, 
lived a laborious life, hard pressed by poverty until a pension 

1 Notes and Queries, 1st Ser., ii, 490-91. 

2 Diet. National Biography, Benjamin Motte. 



384 FLEET STREET 

from the King of £400 a year relieved his wants, his only induce- 
ment to persevere, he himself wrote, being an innate desire 
to preserve the memory of famous men. x 

Jacob Robinson had his bookshop " on the west side of the 
gateway leading down Inner Temple Lane " — now Groom's 
Coffee-house — and there one day was witnessed a curious scene. 
Robinson produced a review which ventured to criticise David 
Hume's anonymous Treatise of Human Nature, a circumstance, 
according to Burton, " which so highly provoked our young 
philosopher that he flew in a violent rage to demand satis- 
faction of Jacob Robinson, the publisher, whom he kept at bay, 
during the paroxysm of his anger, at his sword's point, trem- 
bling behind the counter, lest a period should be put to the life 
of a sober critic by a raving philosopher." 2 Lawton Gilliver, 
Pope's publisher in later years, was established at the Homer's 
Head against St. Dunstan's Church. 

Long through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
Fleet Street was a famous ground for demonstrations, the 
space within Temple Bar being the Trafalgar Square of later 
days. There bonfires were piled, and effigies of particular 
objects of popular hatred or derision cast into the flames, 
smoking the noses of King James the First and his Queen, 
Anne of Denmark, where they gazed down in stone. On the 
anniversary of the arrival in London of William of Orange, 
the 20th December, 1689, a procession with a thousand torches 
wound through the City to Temple Bar, with figures of all the 
exiled King James's ministers ; these were hanged on gallows, 
then cast into the bonfire, the gallows themselves, the pillory, 
and the whipping-posts going the same way. 

A huge jack-boot was burnt there in ridicule of Lord Bute 
in the Wilkes riots of 1763. 

Six years later a band of Wilkites closed Temple Bar, 
to stop a procession of 600 loyal citizens on their way to 
St. James's to present an address denouncing all attempts to 
spread sedition and uproot the constitution. The City Marshal, 
who tried to reopen the gates, was bedaubed with mud, and the 
carriages were pelted with stones. A hearse drawn by two white 

1 Diet. National Biography, Arthur Collins. 

2 F. A. Mumby, The Romance of Bookselling, p. 2*52. 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 385 

horses and two black followed the discomfited loyalists when, 
beaten and dishevelled, they turned up Chancery Lane to reach 
the Palace by a devious route. 

• In wild disorderliness the Burning of the Pope was not 
eclipsed : an annual affair which originated amid the excite- 
ment of the Popish Plot of 1679, and was celebrated on the 
anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession. Lord Shaftes- 
bury and the gentlemen of the Green Ribbon Club, who met 
at the King's Head Tavern in Fleet Street, are credited with 
having started the demonstration in an excess of Protestant 
zeal. " Queen Elizabeth's " statue on Temple Bar * was on 
these occasions made to bear in the extended hand a scroll, 
" The Protestant Religion and Magna Charta ! " and the figure 
was illuminated by flambeaux and candles. 

Roger North has left (in the Examen) a lively account of 
the procession : he had taken his place at the Green Dragon 
tavern in Fleet Street, where the Green Dragon stands 
to-day— 

When we had posted ourselves at windows expecting the play to 
begin it was very dark ; but we could perceive the street to be full, 
and the hum of the crowd grew louder and louder ; and at length, 
with help of some lights below, we could discern, not only upwards 
towards the bar, where the squib-war was maintained, but downwards 
towards Fleet Bridge, the whole street was crowded with people, 
which made that which followed seem very strange ; for about eight 
at night we heard a din from below, which came up the street, con- 
tinually increasing until we could perceive a motion ; and that was a 
row of stout fellows, that came, shouldered together, cross the street, 
from wall to wall on each side. How the people melted away I cannot 
tell ; but it was plain those fellows made clear board, as if they had 
swept the street for what was to come after. They went along like a 
wave ; and it was wonderful to see how the crowd made way : I 
suppose the good people were willing to give obedience to lawful 
authority. 

Behind this wave (which, as all the rest, had many lights attending) 
there was a vacancy, but it filled apace, till another like wave came 
up ; and so four or five of these waves passed, one after another ; 
and then we discerned more numerous lights, and throats were opened 
with hoarse and tremendous noise ; and with that advanced a pageant , 
borne along above the heads of the crowd, and upon it sat a huge Pope 
in pontificalibus , in his chair, with a seasonable attendance for state : 



1 Anne of Denmark's statue was made to do duty for the Protestant 
Queen, whom in popular belief it represented. 

25— (2246) 



386 FLEET STREET 

but his premier minister, that shared most of his ear, was II Signior 
Diavolo, a nimble little fellow, in a proper dress, that had a strange 
dexterity in climbing and winding about the chair, from one of the 
Pope's ears to the other. 

The next pageant was a parcel of Jesuits ; and after that (for there 
was always a decent space between them) came another, with some 
ordinary persons with halters, as I took it, about their necks ; and one 
with a stenterophonic tube, sounded " Abhorrers ! Abhorrers ! " most 
infernally ; and, lastly, came one, with a single person upon it, which 
some said was the pamphleteer, Sir Roger L'Estrange, some the King 
of France, some the Duke of York ; but, certainly, it was a very 
complaisant civil gentleman, like the former, that was doing what 
everybody pleased to have him ; and, taking all in good part, went on 
his way to the fire. 

A rare pamphlet in the British Museum, The Burning of the 
Pope at Temple Bar in London, describes the event in the year 
of the Popish Plot ; the processionists thousands strong ; 
innumerable swarms of onlookers seeming to convert the houses 
into heaps of men, women, and children. II Signior Diavolo, 
always a popular figure, was in close attendance. " His 
Holiness, after some compliments and reluctances, was decently 
toppled from all his grandeur into the impartial flames, the 
crafty devil leaving his infallibilityship in the lurch, and 
laughing as heartily at his ignominious end as subtle Jesuits 
do at the ruin of " — no matter. " This act of justice was 
attended with a prodigious shout." 

The bonfire was lighted in front of Inner Temple Gate, and 
there the actors sang a curious part song. One in scarlet 
represented the English Cardinal (Philip Howard, brother 
of the Duke of Norfolk, who received the Red Hat in 1675), 
others the Protestant people. Note the quaint appeal to the 
figures on Temple Bar — 

Cardinal Norfolk 

From York to London town we come 

To talk of Popish ire 
To reconcile you all to Rome, 

And prevent Smithfield fire. 

Plebeians 

Cease, Cease, thou Norfolk Cardinal ! 

See, yonder stands Queen Bess, 
Who saved our souls from Popish thrall, 

O Queen Bess ! Queen Bess ! Queen Bess ! 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 387 

Your Popish plot and Smithfield threat 

We do not fear at all, 
For lo ! beneath Queen Bess's feet, 

You fall ! you fall ! you fall ! 

Tis true our king's on t'other side, 

A looking t' wards Whitehall, 
But, could we bring him roundabout 

He'd counterplot you all. 

Then down with James, and up with Charles, 

On good Queen Bess's side, 
That all true commons, lords and earls, 

May wish him a fruitful bride. 

Now God preserve great Charles our King, 

And eke all honest men, 
And traitors all to justice bring, 

Amen ! Amen ! Amen ! 

Riots were not always in the street, nor in Alsatia, its 
dissolute backway. A Lord Mayor ventured to intrude into 
the Temple : with painful results. The Temple has always 
claimed its own peculiar jurisdiction, and to be free, when 
so ill-mannered, to tilt its nose and snap its fingers at mayor 
or alderman. Sir William Turner rilled the civic chair in 1668-9. 
Invited to dine with Mr. Goodfellow, the Reader of Inner 
Temple, on the 3rd March, he communicated his intention to 
come in State, bearing his symbols of office. The whole Society 
protested, whereupon the Mayor declined to come at all ; but, 
evidently piqued, he afterwards sent this message : " I will 
come and dine with him. I will bear up my sword, and see 
who dares to take it down." 

The Templars did not lightly suffer defiance of this kind 
upon tjr eir own ground. They prepared for the fray. A mob 
of barristers and students of the Inn, wearing swords under 
their cloaks, confronted the civic party as they passed into 
the Temple cloisters, and one Hodges, their spokesman, told 
the Lord Mayor that unless his sword-bearer at once lowered 
the civic sword they would not be permitted to enter the hall. 
It was not the King's, but was the Lord Mayor's sword ; 
" they were as good men as he, and no respect should be paid 
to him there." 

No answer being made to a demand couched in these insolent 
terms, there was an immediate rush for the mayoral sword — 



388 FLEET STREET 

a gift, by the way, of Queen Elizabeth. It was pulled down, 
but not captured, and in the struggle the sword-bearer was 
slightly hurt, and some of the pearls from the scabbard were 
knocked off. The Cap of Maintenance borne by the same 
official was partly snatched from him. Worse still fared the 
City Marshal's men in attendance. They were seized by the 
law students, and hustled away to be put under the pump, 
but as the record quaintly says, " were not pumped." Their 
staffs were taken from them, and they were beaten and 
maltreated with their own weapons. 

Driven into a corner, the Lord Mayor, with his retinue, 
took shelter in the chamber of Mr. Auditor Phillips. Sir John 
Nicholas, the Recorder, with the Sheriffs, was despatched 
to Whitehall to report the affront to King Charles. Sir 
Richard Browne caused the drums to beat for the trained 
bands. Here were all the elements of a first-class riot : the 
Lord Mayor roughly imprisoned ; the Templars in their most 
warlike mood ; and an appeal to the Crown. 

The Sovereign appears to have advised the Lord Mayor 
to go back to the City. 

As soon as the Recorder and Sheriffs had returned, the 
Mayor and Aldermen attempted to make their way out of the 
Temple. They were again opposed by the victorious students, 
with Hodges at their head, and a scene of wild excitement 
and confusion followed. Blows were showered upon the 
Aldermen, and one of the Sheriffs was seized by the collar in the 
frantic attempts by the students to pull down the civic sword. 
The Mayor and Aldermen were called " cuckolds," and their 
officers " dogs, rogues, rascals, and other very bad names." 
Black eyes were distributed among the servants. The students 
refused to allow the Lord Mayor to depart bearing his sword up, 
except by way of the infamous Ram Alley, that being regarded 
as a back door of the Inn. 

There was no other course for the Lord Mayor and his party 
than again to take refuge in the Auditor's chambers. The 
Sheriffs and Sir John Nicholas were sent off a second time to 
the King. The benchers then intervened with effect, and it 
was intimated to his lordship that he might leave without 
interruption (" the young gentlemen," according to Pepys, 
had been persuaded to go in to dinner). Finally, the Lord 
Mayor and his train made a safe exit, though accompanied 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 389 

to the Temple Gate by members and students of the Inn, 
shouting and jeering at the party. It is written in the Guildhall 
records " that the proceedings aforesaid were greatly affr on tive 
and dishonourable to the Government of the City ' ' — which none 
will dispute. l Times change. The Temple was all quietness 
and decorum when the Lord Mayor, with the Lady Mayoress, 
in 1909 attended divine service at the Temple Church. 

In the London of King George the First, the passer-by often 
noticed over a tavern door rows of mugs hung out — sure sign 
that there the friends of the newly-acceded House of Hanover 
assembled to rally to the Protestant succession, and drink 
damnation to the Popish Pretender and all his partisans. Mrs. 
Read's Coffee-house in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, was 
one of these political mug-houses. The Whigs gathered there 
were noisy in their cups. The roar of " King George for ever ! " 
and loyalty to his Majesty finding expression in fervid toasts, 
coupled with damnatory anticipations for all his enemies, the 
orange cockades, ostentatiously displayed, with the motto — 
With heart and hand 
By George we'll stand — 

— these were the sounds and sights at the open windows of the 
mug-house, well calculated to incense any of the mob who 
might happen to have assembled outside ; the mob in those 
days being mostly Tory and Jacobite. The execution of the 
hapless rebels of 1715 had not improved their temper. Roused 
to a proper pitch, the Jacobites commenced on the night of 
Friday, the 20th July, 1716, a furious attack upon Read's 
house. They swore roundly that they would level it to the 
ground, and light a bonfire with its materials in the middle of 
the street. 

Closing their windows and barricading the doors, the Whigs 
hastily sent a messenger, by a back way, to the mug-house in 
Tavistock Street, Co vent Garden, begging that the loyalists 
there assembled would come to the rescue. The call was 
responded to with alacrity ; the mug-house men proceeded in a 



1 Mr. Inderwick, K.C., has given the narrative as told in the Inn 
(Intro, to Calendar of Inner Temple Records, vol. iii) ; Dr. Reginald 
Sharpe the version preserved in the City's archives (London and the 
Kingdom, ii, 40-43), and there are some illuminating passages in 
Pepys's Diary. 



390 FLEET STREET 

body down the Strand and Fleet Street, armed with staves and 
bludgeons, and a battle royal began. Being reinforced by 
those within the house, who sallied out wielding pokers and 
tongs, and every kind of weapon that hands could be laid 
upon, they put the mob to flight, and the mug-house men 
remained masters of the field. 

But not for long. On the following Monday a Jacobite 
mob, with loud shouts of " High Church and Ormond for ever ! " 
and " No King George ! " poured into Fleet Street in greatly 
strengthened numbers. They had found a leader in one 
Vaughan, formerly a Bridewell boy. Leaving every window 
smashed at the Boar's Head, near Water Lane, a loyalist resort, 
they turned into Salisbury Court. Read, the landlord of the 
mug-house, fearing that they would either burn or pull down 
his place, threw up a window and presented a loaded musket, 
threatening that he would shoot the first man who advanced. 

This only exasperated the rioters, who charged the door with 
furious yells. Read fired, and Vaughan fell dead on the spot. 
The mob, now perfectly frantic, swore to hang the landlord 
at his own signpost. They battered the door, pulled down 
the sign, and broke the windows. Late into the night the 
resistance was maintained, but at last the assailants forced a 
way in. 

Read and some of the Loyal Society managed with difficulty 
to escape by a back door. Others made a barricade at the 
stair-head, which they successfully defended. The rioters 
overran the lower rooms and smashed every bit of furniture 
into pieces, leaving only the bare walls. Then turning to the 
cellars, they drank all the ale they could contain, and let the 
rest run from the taps. Broken chairs and tables were thrown 
into the street to feed a great bonfire, preparatory to burning 
down the house. The Sheriffs and a posse of constables arrived. 
The Riot Act was read, but the destroyers, mad with drink 
and excitement, paid no heed. Quiet was only restored when 
a squadron of horse galloped up from Whitehall and cleared the 
streets. Five of the ringleaders were publicly hanged in Fleet 
Street, by the entrance to Salisbury Court, and thereafter the 
mug-house riots abruptly ceased. 

I have talked of the booksellers who gathered about Temple 
Bar, in this far end of Fleet Street's length, where substantial 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 391 

old houses survived the clearance made elsewhere by the 
Great Fire, and have passed in rapid review some of its political 
turmoils ; but the ground has other and more grim associations. 
Few of those who to-day hurry by are aware what numbers of 
human lives have been sacrificed to justice upon this spot, in 
times when public executions were the invariable practice. For 
the larger part, the gallows claimed but common thieves and 
murderers, needing no remembrance, but now and again 
an honoured name appears to brighten the page, or some 
crime of peculiar infamy marks it with a deeper stain. 

There perished Ayloffe, a chief participator in Argyle's 
hapless rebellion. Brought from Scotland to London, though 
badly wounded in an attempt made to destroy himself with a 
small penknife, he was confronted with James the Second 
before the Privy Council. A story was current among the 
Whigs that the King said, " You had better be frank with me, 
Mr. Ayloffe. You know that it is in my power to pardon you." 
The captive broke his sullen silence, answering, " It may be 
in your power, but it is not in your nature." He was hanged 
under an old outlawry before Inner Temple Gate on the 30th 
October, 1685, and died with stoical composure. " This man," 
wrote Branston in his memoirs, " had been a great clubber at 
the King's Head Tavern, a great ribbon man." 

On the 31st July, 1703, the pillory was set up on the road 
within Temple Bar, and a man stood in the pillory — not in 
itself an unusual sight. Titus Oates had filled this place of 
shame, and the loathsome creature met with hard usage. 
But now the conditions were entirely changed. An exulting 
crowd accompanied the prisoner from Newgate to the place 
of exposure. The platform had been garlanded with flowers, 
as if for a festival. With head and hands thrust through the 
boards, the victim spent two uncomfortable hours, and above 
him, as was customary, his name was written on a scroll, 

Daniel Defoe 
He stood unabashed. The place of ignominy became a 
stage of honour. Instead of the usual rotten eggs and garbage, 
the sympathising throng which filled the street pelted Defoe 
with flowers. His noble " Hymn to the Pillory," published 
the same morning, passed from hand to hand, and the populace 
sang the verses with tremendous enthusiasm — and emphasis, 
no doubt, on the stinging lines — 



392 FLEET STREET 

Tell them the men that placed him here 

Are scandals to the times ; 
Are at a loss to find his guilt, 

And can't commit his crimes. 

Long life to the culprit was toasted amid rounds of cheers, 
the disorderly element customary at such exhibitions being 
completely overawed. 

The writer endeared to all children as the creator of Robinson 
Crusoe was more active as a political pamphleteer than as a 
romancer, and at this time was smarting under a sense of 
injustice and an infamous sentence — three exposures in the 
pillory, a fine of 200 marks, imprisonment during pleasure, and 
an order to find securities for seven years. Defoe had published 
anonymously a satirical pamphlet, The Shortest Way with 
the Dissenters, wherein he professed to advocate their extir- 
pation as thoroughly as the French King had dealt with 
Protestants ; a slitting of throats would be an efficacious 
measure. 

Alas for the denseness of human understanding ! Some 
unusually foolish High Churchmen and Tories, staunch sup- 
porters of the persecuting Occasional Conformity Bill, took the 
work in sober earnest and expressed approval ; soon, however, 
to be awakened to its meaning. A Government prosecution 
resulted. " It seems impossible," Defoe afterwards wrote 
of his pamphlet, " to imagine it anything but a banter upon the 
high-flying Churchman. All the fault I can find in myself as 
to these people is, that when I had drawn the picture I did not, 
like the Dutchman with his man and his bear, write under them, 
* This is the man,' and * This is the bear,' lest the people 
should mistake me." As the popular hero descended from the 
pillory, the acclamations were renewed, and the demonstrators 
marched back with him from Temple Bar to the prison amid 
loud shouts of triumph. 1 

The site I recall thirty years later, a mob of people quite 
as large filling Fleet Street. Sarah Malcolm was brought up 
from Newgate and hanged before Inner Temple Gate, the 7th 
March, 1733 ; her crime an atrocious triple murder committed 
in the Temple. Hogarth made a painting of this wretched 
creature, for which she sat in gaol, dressed out in scarlet, two 



1 Wilson's Memoir of Daniel Defoe, ii, 69 et seq. ; Chadwick's Life 
and Times of Defoe, 180-81. 




Photograph by Mr. Alexander Anderson 

CRANE COURT, FLEET STREET 

The house in the foreground, occupied by Messrs. Whelpton, bears 

date lb71, and is an excellent example of the type of building 

erected immediately after the Great Fire of London 




From a print of Hogarth's Portrait 

SARAH MALCOLM, MURDERESS 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 393 

days before her exit from the world. The picture, now in the 
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, is that of a cruel, thin- 
lipped woman, not uncomely, sitting at a table. A portrait 
in Sir Francis Cook's private collection at Richmond is also 
said to be that of the murderess, but on very slight evidence. 

The crime took place during the night of the 3rd February, 
1733, in Tanfield Court, a quiet by-way south-east of the Tem- 
ple Church, where Sarah Malcolm had acted as charwoman to 
Mrs. Lydia Duncomb, a lady of eighty years. Her object was 
to obtain possession of her mistress's hoarded wealth, hoping 
that she might by the attraction of money find a husband in a 
man named Alexander, one of two worthless brothers, with 
whom, and also a woman of low character named Mary Tracy, 
she had become acquainted. 

Mrs. Duncomb had been for some years in occupation of 
an upper set of rooms in Tanfield Court, her household consist- 
ing of an old servant, Elizabeth Harrison, aged sixty, and 
a girl named Ann Price, about seventeen. Sarah Malcolm 
came occasionally to help. She had also the care, as " laun- 
dress " to Mr. Kerril, a young Irish barrister, of a number of 
bachelors' rooms — the name is still applied to that necessary 
and faithful band, given, it is said, because they do anything 
but washing. 

On the day after the murder, a Sunday, a Mrs. Love came 
by invitation of Mrs. Duncomb to dine. No response was 
made to her repeated knocks. The old servant Harrison 
had been very ill. It was feared she was dead. The visitor 
became alarmed, and espying Sarah Malcolm in the court, she 
sent her for a smith to force open the door. The woman 
returned without one, then disappeared. Mrs. Rymer, a friend 
of the aged lady, was also fetched. A laundress at neighbouring 
chambers suggested that by getting out of her master's window 
and walking along the gutter they could break a pane of 
glass in Mrs. Duncomb's casement, and so open the latch. 

Accordingly the three women crawled along the ledge, 
and gained entrance. The first object presented from the 
passage was the body of Ann Price, lying on her bed, with 
throat cut from ear to ear, hair dishevelled and hanging over 
her eyes, and hands clenched. In the next room lay Elizabeth 
Harrison, strangled ; and in the adjoining room Mrs. Duncomb, 
also strangled on her bed. A box in which the old lady had 



394 FLEET STREET 

kept her money had been forced open and stripped of its 
contents, except a few papers. That day passed, and there 
was no clue as to who had broken in. It was Kerril who gave 
over Sarah Malcolm to the watch, after having found concealed 
in his rooms some stained linen and also a silver pint tankard, 
with blood on the handle. 

The woman when at Newgate gave most damning evidence 
against herself. A search there disclosed a bag concealed as 
a chignon under her hair, containing twenty moidores, eighteen 
guineas, five broad-pieces, a half broad-piece, five crowns and 
two or three shillings. Making a confidant of Roger Johnson, 
the gaoler, she admitted to him that some of the money was 
Mrs. Duncomb's. " But, Mr. Johnson," said she, " I will 
make you a present of it, if you will but keep it to yourself, 
and let nobody know ; for the other things against me are 
nothing but circumstances, and I shall come off well enough ; 
and I only desire you to let me have threepence or sixpence a 
day till the sessions are over, and then I shall be at liberty to 
shift for myself." She told the gaoler afterwards that she 
had engaged three men for a trifling sum of money to swear that 
the tankard belonged to her grandmother ; that she was the 
contriver of the robbery, but two men and a woman were 
concerned with her, and she waited on the stairs below. She 
had no part, so she asserted, in the atrocity. 

Mary Tracy and the two Alexanders were arrested, and when 
confronted with Sarah Malcolm she charged them in the 
boldest manner as her accomplices. " Aye ! there are the per- 
sons who committed the murder," she cried, and turning 
to Tracy declared, " You know this to be true. See what you 
have brought me to ! It is through you and the Alexanders 
that I am brought to this shame. You all said you would do 
no murder, but to my great surprise I found the contrary." 
These three were liberated. Whether Sarah Malcolm had any 
assistance in her bloody work has never been decided ; most 
likely not. She was at the Old Bailey sentenced to death, 
and a special order further directed that her execution should 
take place in Fleet Street, near the Temple Gate and the scene 
of her enormous offences. 

In gaol the subject that gave her most concern was that 
she was to be hanged in the public street, amidst her acquaint- 
ances ; the thought of it, she said, was insupportable. Sarah 



BUILDINGS AND OLD BOOKSELLERS 395 

Malcolm went to her death dressed in a crape mourning gown, 
white apron, sarcenet hood, and black gloves. When brought 
in the cart from Newgate she held up her head with an air, 
and seemed to be painted. Accounts of her last moments 
vary. As the Ordinary, in his prayers, commended her soul 
to God she fainted, and with much difficulty recovered her 
senses. The crowd in Fleet Street to witness the execution was 
so dense that a Mrs. Strangeways, who lived near Serjeants' Inn, 
crossed the street to a house on the opposite side over the heads 
and shoulders of the mob. Sarah Malcolm was but twenty- 
two. Ireland tells that the corpse was conveyed to an under- 
taker's on Snow Hill, where multitudes of people resorted 
and paid money to see it ; among the rest, a gentleman in 
deep mourning kissed the still face, and gave the attendants 
half-a-crown. 

The Temple was earlier, in 1724, the scene of a murder under 
most painful circumstances. At daybreak on the 15th Febru- 
ary, a resident of Essex Court, named Constantine Macgenius, 
was seen to drag a woman along the pavement there, lunging 
at her with his sword. Then he flung her down on the stones, 
saying she was a witch, and that he would burn her. She 
proved to be Mrs. Frances Williams, her assailant's laundress. 
When seized by the watch, Macgenius repeated to him that the 
woman was a witch, and said that there had been a murder 
committed in the Tower, but he could not discover it because 
she had bewitched him. Ample evidence was forthcoming 
that the unhappy man was mad, and the jury acquitted him 
as a lunatic. 

The infamous Mrs. Brownrigg, who whipped to death a 
parish apprentice girl in her cellar in Fleur-de-lis Court, Fetter 
Lane, was hanged at Tyburn. 

The pillory survived as a method of punishment until 1830, 
when on the 24th June Peter Bossy, the last victim to be so 
exposed, stood in the Old Bailey, for perjury. Mr. Timbs 
remembered having seen, about the year 1812, four persons 
exhibited in the pillory at Fleet Market. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE FLEET PARSONS 1 

In walking along the street in my youth, on the side next Fleet Prison, 
I have often been tempted by the question, " Sir, will you be pleased 
to walk in and be married ? " Along this most lawless space was 
hung up the frequent sign of a male and female hand conjoined, 
with " Marriages performed within " written beneath. A dirty 
fellow invited you in. The parson was seen walking before his shop ; 
a squalid, profligate figure, clad in a tattered plaid night-gown, 
with a fiery face, and ready to couple you for a dram of gin, or roll 
of tobacco. — Pennant, London, 1791. 

The discreditable story of the " Fleet parsons " begins with 
the Fleet Prison, out of which they sprang. This had been the 
King's prison since Norman rule. Wat Tyler's mob, mad 
with hate, burnt down the gaol. It was rebuilt, again to be 
consumed in the Great Fire of London. A third time the Fleet 
Prison disappeared in the roar of flame, when set alight in 1780 
by the Gordon rioters. In its last state it was not destroyed 
until the year 1846. 

No London prison, not even that of the Tower, has such a 
long record. Henry the Fifth interned at the Fleet some of 
his French captives taken at the reduction of Honfleur. 
Wolsey committed there without cause those who thwarted 
his demands ; this was alleged against him in the articles of his 
impeachment. Henry the Eighth sent others to the Fleet, 
among them, in 1541, John Gough, a London printer, for print- 
ing and selling a seditious book. Shakespeare despatched a 
distinguished prisoner — 

Chief Justice. — Go, carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet : 

Take all his company along with him. 
Falstaff. — My lord, my lord, — 
Chief Justice, — I cannot now speak ; I will hear you soon. 

Take them away. 

(King Henry IV, pt. ii, act v, sc. 5.) 



1 Mr. Burn's slim volume, The Fleet Registers, published in 1833, 
remains the chief authority for the Fleet marriages. Valuable additions 
have been made by Mr. John Ashton in his book on The Fleet ; its 
River, Prison, and Marriages (1888) ; and to both of these writers I 
am indebted in this chapter. 

396 



THE FLEET PARSONS 397 

The Earl of Surrey, the poet, was a prisoner in the Fleet, 
which he described as "a noisome place, with a pestilent 
atmosphere." William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was there 
in 1601, committed by Elizabeth after detection in a liaison with 
one of the Queen's maids of honour ; the widowed Countess 
of Dorset in 1610, six or seven days, " for pressing into the 
Privy Council and importuning the King, contrary to com- 
mandment " — the King being that much importuned monarch, 
James the First ; Lucius Carey, Viscount Falkland, for sending 
a challenge. Wycherley, the dramatist, ruined through his 
Countess's settlement being disputed, lay there for seven years. 
Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, for a while found a refuge 
in the Fleet rules. 

Religious persecutions by Mary and Elizabeth, and in later 
reigns, sent many martyrs to the Fleet. Bishop Hooper was 
twice within its walls, which he quitted in 1555 for the stake 
at Gloucester. In the prison his bed was " a little pad of 
straw, with a rotten covering," his chamber " vile and stink- 
ing." Prynne, under a savage sentence by the Star Chamber 
of mutilation and life-long imprisonment for writing the 
Histrio-Mastix, in which were found reflections on Queen 
Henrietta Maria, was detained at Fleet Prison. Lilburne, 
the Puritan, for libel and sedition, " to be laid well in irons 
on his hands and legs in the wards of the Fleet," was in addition 
whipped at the cart-rail up Fleet Street to the pillory at 
Westminster Hall. Many more might be recalled. 

The Fleet gained unhappy notoriety as the Star Chamber 
prison, and when that court was itself swept away in 1641, 
became a gaol for debtors and bankrupts of the Court of Chan- 
cery, Exchequer, and Common Pleas. A debtors' prison it 
remained to the last. The office of Warden, anciently a grant 
by the King and afterwards a freehold, was held jointly with 
the custody of the Old Palace of Westminster, which came to 
mean the rents and profits of the shops in Westminster Hall, 
that were for so long, with curious persistency, permitted to 
survive. Mr. Wheatley has recalled in this connection that the 
Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer received annually as late 
as 1822 (perhaps later) two loaves of sugar from the Warden 
of Fleet Prison. * 

1 London Past and Present, ii, 57. 



398 FLEET STREET 

An ancestor of that veteran sportsman, Sir George Whichcote, 
Bart., of Aswarby Park, Lincolnshire, obtained the wardenship 
under the Commonwealth. It is a pretty story told of Jeremy 
Whichcote. At the request of his exiled Sovereign, Charles 
the Second, he purchased the office. By officiating at times 
himself, he was able to shelter the King's agents, and to prevent 
a treacherous design upon his Royal person. For this service 
he was honoured with a baronetcy, by patent dated Brussels, 
2nd April, 1660. 1 Sir Jeremy, after the Great Fire of London, 
acquired Caroone (or Caron) House in South Lambeth to 
accommodate the Fleet prisoners, later rebuilding the prison at 
his own expense on the old site by Fleet Ditch. 

By a legal fiction, prisoners in other gaols not infrequently 
declared themselves to be debtors to the King, in order to be 
exchanged to the Fleet. In all conscience it was unsavoury 
enough, but the prison enjoyed exceptional liberties. The most 
prized was that of permission to live in the " rules," or liberty, 
outside the walls, fee being paid to the warden, who greatly 
profited thereby, and surety given that the bailed prisoner 
would be forthcoming when required. I have failed to trace 
when the ground about the gaol first gained this peculiar 
franchise, but its origin is rooted far back. In the reign of 
King Richard the Second, privileged prisoners of the Fleet 
were allowed to go at large, by bail, or with a baston (tipstaff) 
for days and nights together, paying 8d. a day and 12d. for 
the keep of the attendant warder — large fees. 

In the year 1824, near the prison's last days, the rules 
of the Fleet were enlarged to include the churches of St. Bride 
and St. Martin, Ludgate, New Bridge Street, Blackfriars to the 
Thames, Dorset Street and Salisbury Square, part of Fleet 
Street, Ludgate Hill to the entrance of St. Paul's churchyard, 
and the lanes and courts in the vicinity — the whole a circuit 
of one and a half miles. This was not, however, the historic 
liberty of the Fleet parsons' time. It was much smaller, 
comprising roughly a square about the gaol, that building, 
with its high wall, forming one corner. The boundaries were 
Ludgate Hill, north side, to Old Bailey ; the Old Bailey, both 
sides, to Fleet Lane ; down Fleet Lane to the Fleet Ditch, or 
Market ; and by the ditch-side to Ludgate Hill. 



1 Collins's Baronetage, 1741, iii, 12. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 399 

Secure upon his own ground, the privileged debtor was 
immune from legal process, and protected against his creditor. 
What were known as the " day-rules " enabled him, during 
term or the sitting of the Courts at Westminster, to go abroad 
in day time, to transact and arrange his affairs. 

Thus for very many years was to be found at the foot of 
Fleet Street a colony of debtors, owing in the aggregate immense 
sums. They lived penned like cattle within their liberty. We 
know the place only as dead and still, dark turnings and 
shadows under railway arches, and high walls and house- 
backs, and it is difficult to visualise it as it was. This was one 
of the busiest hives in London, a honeycomb of unsavoury 
courts and alleys, now swept away, and even their names 
forgotten — like Pigeon's Court, Ship Court, George Alley, Pea- 
cock Alley, Black and White Court, and many more. Small 
shops kept by chandlers, cooks, cheap clothiers, and a multitude 
of others ready to supply every want, jostled one another 
throughout the length of these winding passages that ran up 
from Fleet Ditch to the Old Bailey. Taverns abounded, 
haunts of the lowest life. Seacoal Lane, which to-day has not 
a single number, was crowded on both sides with brandy 
shops, gambling cellars, and chandlers' stores. Ben Jonson's 
lines on the ditch — 

whose banks upon, 
Your Fleet Lane Furies and hot Cooks do dwell, 
That with still scalding steams make the place Hell — 

indicate Fleet Lane's characteristic trade, and it altered 
little after his day. 

Rarely was a debtor able to obtain a house, but rooms were 
let out by landlords at preposterously high charges for the 
accommodation provided. Lodgings, even the worst, were 
found with difficulty in the confined liberty, which was densely 
over-populated. High birth and low life mingled here. The 
young patrician, reduced after squandering a fortune, and the 
merchant whose speculations had brought him ruin, mixed in 
debased camaraderie with the common swindler, the fraudulent 
debtor, and the besotted refugee. The sun went its round, but 
the Liberty of the Fleet took little note of the passing hours : 
a few oil lamps shedding a faint glare and the lights from the 
shop-windows told of night, when the stir was perhaps more 
noticeable than in the daytime. The cries were unceasing, 



400 FLEET STREET 

and always the odour went up to St. Paul's, beneath the shadow 
of which the squalid area lay. It took no care to hide its dis- 
grace from the sight of fashionable beaux and fine gentlewomen 
who came to shop with the mercers and other tradesmen of 
substance on Ludgate Hill. 

• There was one set of residents of the Fleet liberty who 
brazenly flaunted themselves and their calling before the 
passer-by. I mean the Fleet parsons and their " plyers," or 
" setters," or " barkers " — slang terms for the touts paid on 
results by these disreputable divines — and the tavern-keepers 
who made a specialty of accommodation for weddings. In 
this haunt of iniquity it was thought nothing that a taverner 
should advertise that he kept a parson on his premises. The 
kept parson had a weekly salary of about twenty shillings, and 
this he expanded into a comfortable income by various lawless 
means. From windows boards hung out with the words, 
" Weddings Performed Cheap Here." 

The wedding-shops had their typical signs, like any other 
trade. That of a male and female hand joined was a favourite 
device. " The Hand and Pen," by Fleet Prison, was a barber's 
shop where marriages were made, kept by Mrs. Ball ; a like 
sign served for Joshua Lilley, near Fleet Bridge; Matthias 
Wilson, by Fleet Ditch; and John Burnford, at the foot of 
Ludgate Hill. Wyatt, " Minister of the Fleet," celebrated 
at the Two Sawyers, corner of Fleet Lane. With character- 
istic impudence, James Lando announced as "St. John's 
Chapel " his den in Half Moon Court. Mrs. Clark " kept " a 
parson at the Naked Boy. Peter Symson had his " chapel " 
at the Old Red Hand and Mitre, three doors from Fleet Lane ; 
and a Fleet Market tavern with the sign of the Cock was a 
well-known marriage house. 

" Dr." John Gaynam, (or Gainham) whose unpleasant 
soubriquet was " The Bishop of Hell," married after 1709 at 
the Rainbow Coffee-house, by the corner of Fleet Ditch. Asked 
at a trial for bigamy at the neighbouring Old Bailey if he 
could remember the prisoner, Gaynam answered, " How can I 
remember persons ; I have married two thousand since that 
time ? " 

Clandestine marriages were extraordinarily common in the 
eighteenth century, owing to the lack of restrictions. The 
Common Law of England governed these matters until 1754, 



THE FLEET PARSONS 401 

the taking of a woman as wife before witnesses and acknowledg- 
ing her position (which remains Scotch law to-day) being the 
essentials of the contract, and though the officiating clergyman 
was required to keep an authentic register, a marriage cele- 
brated in an ale-house was equally binding with that conducted 
in a cathedral, with every ecclesiastical form observed. The 
first Fleet marriages took place in the chapel of the Fleet 
Prison itself, dating back to 1613, but an Act passed in the 
tenth year of Queen Anne's reign, prohibiting marriages in 
chapels without banns, drove the trade entirely into the 
surrounding streets, with results tenfold more harmful. 

• The Fleet plumbed a depth of infamy hardly reached else- 
where, with its besotted divines mumbling the words of religion, 
and keeping a register which could always be falsified for a 
bribe ; but it had no monopoly of irregular marriages. There 
is extant a list of about ninety chapels scattered over the 
metropolis where these were at different times performed. x 

Dissolute, disreputable men, mostly prisoners for debt 
confined to the rules, the Fleet parsons had neither liberty, 
money, nor credit to lose by any proceedings the bishop might 
institute against them. Not all of them had taken Holy Orders, 
but certainly the larger proportion disgraced the cloth, and all 
alike wore the cassock, gown, and bands. Whoever desired 
to be married with secrecy and despatch might secure their 
services. No questions were asked, no stipulations made, 
except as to the amount of the fee or the quantity of liquor 
to be provided on the occasion. It not infrequently happened, 
indeed, that the clergyman, the clerk, the bridegroom, and the 
bride were drunk at the very time of the ceremony. 

" In fact," said a writer a century ago, " all manner of 
people presented themselves for marriage at the unholy dens 
in the Fleet taverns — runaway sons and daughters of peers 2 — 
Irish adventurers and foolish rich widows — clodhoppers and 
ladies from St. Giles's — footmen and decayed beauties — 

1 John Ashton, The Fleet, p. 336. 

2 The classic case is that of Henry Fox (afterwards Lord Holland) 
who in May, 1744, ran away with Lady Caroline Lennox, the eldest 
daughter of the Duke of Richmond, and married her in the Fleet. The 
Gentleman's Magazine of 1735 records : " Fleet Marriage. May 6. 
Married the Lord Robert Montagu to Mrs. Harriet Dunch of Whitehall, 
with a fortune of £15,000." 

26 — (2246) 



402 FLEET STREET 

soldiers and servant girls — boys in their teens and old women of 
seventy — discarded mistresses, ' given away ' by their former 
admirers to pitiable and sordid bridegrooms — night-wanderers 
and intoxicated apprentices — men and women having already 
wives and husbands — young heiresses conveyed thither by 
force and compelled, in terror em, to be brides — and common 
labourers and female paupers dragged by parish-officers to the 
profane altar, stained by the relics of drunken orgies, and reek- 
ing with the fumes of liquor and tobacco ! Nay, it sometimes 
happened that the ' contracting parties ' would send from 
houses of vile repute for a Fleet parson, who could readily 
be found to attend even in such places and under such 
circumstances, and there unite the couple in matrimony ! " 

How this infamous traffic was fed is shown in a letter pub- 
lished in the Grub Street Journal for 1735. The writer, a 
woman, sets out to expose the evils practised by the Fleet 
parsons and their touts — 

These ministers of wickedness ply about Ludgate Hill, pulling and 
forcing people to some peddling ale-house or a brandy shop to be 
married, even on a Sunday stopping them as they go to church, and 
almost tearing the clothes off their backs. 

Since Midsummer last a young lady of birth and good fortune was 
deluded and forced from her friends, and, by the assistance of a wry- 
necked swearing parson, married to an atheistical wretch whose life 
is a continued practice of all manner of vice and debauchery. And 
since the ruin of my relation, another lady of my acquaintance had 
like to have been trepanned in the following manner. This lady had 
appointed to meet a gentlewoman at the Old Playhouse in Drury 
Lane, but extraordinary business prevented her coming. Being 
alone when the play was done, she bade a boy call a coach for the city. 
One dressed like a gentleman helps her into it, and jumps in after her. 

" Madam," says he, " this coach is called for me, and since the weather 
is so bad, and there is no other, I beg leave to bear you company. I 
am going into the city, and will set you down wherever you please." 

The lady begged to be excused ; but he bade the coachman drive on. 
Being come to Ludgate-hill, he told her his sister, who waited his 
coming but five doors up the court, would go with her in two minutes. 
He went, and returned with his pretended sister, who asked her to 
step in one minute, and she would wait upon her in the coach. Deluded 
with the assurance of having his sister's company, the poor lady fool- 
ishly followed her into the house, when instantly the sister vanished, 
and a tawny fellow in a black coat and a black wig appeared. 

" Madam, you are come in good time ; the Doctor was just a-going." 

" The Doctor ! " says she, horribly frightened, fearing it was a mad 
house ; " what has the Doctor to do with me ? " 

" To marry you to that gentleman. The Doctor has waited for you 



THE FLEET PARSONS 403 

these three hours, and will be paid by you or that gentleman before 



you go ! 

" That gentleman," says she, recovering herself, " is worthy a 
better fortune than mine," and begged hard to be gone. But Doctor 
Wryneck swore she should be married, or if she would not, he would 
still have his fee, and register the marriage from that night. The lady, 
finding she could not escape without money or a pledge, told them 
she liked the gentleman so well she would certainly meet him to- 
morrow night, and gave him a ring as pledge, which, says she. "was 
my mother's gift on her death-bed, enjoining that if ever I married 
it should be my wedding-ring." By that cunning contrivance she 
was delivered from the black doctor and his tawny s crew. 

Some time after this I went with this lady and her brother in a 
coach to Ludgate-hill in the day time, to see the manner of picking up 
people to be married. As soon as our coach stopped near Fleet Bridge, 
up comes one of the myrmidons. 

" Madam," says he, " you want a parson ? " 

" Who are you ? " says I. 

" I am the clerk and register of the Fleet." 

" Show me the chapel." 

At which comes a second, desiring me to go along with him. Says 
he, " That fellow will carry you to a peddling ale-house." Says a 
third, " Go with me ; he will carry you to a brandy -shop." In the 
interim comes the Doctor. " Madam," says he, "I'll do your job for 
you presently ! " 

" Well, gentlemen," says I, " since you can't agree, and I can't be 
married quietly, I'll put it off till another time," so drove away. 
Your constant reader and admirer, 

Virtuous. 

To a critical eye, this missive (I have omitted the appeal) 
may suggest the phrasing of a Grub Street hack rather than of 
unlettered Virtue, but it faithfully describes, says Mr. Burn, 
the treachery and low habits of the Fleet parsons. That such 
forcible marriages as here suggested were possible was shown 
in the historic case of Mistress Annie Leigh, a Buckinghamshire 
heiress, who was decoyed from her friends, married by a Fleet 
chaplain against her consent, and cruelly ill-treated by her 
abductors. 

Crime was served in fifty ways by the toleration of the Fleet 
marriage market. 

A spinster or widow in debt desired to cheat her creditors 
by pretence of marriage before the debt was contracted. The 
Fleet parson would instantly procure a man on the spot to act 
as bridegroom for a few shillings. Bribed sufficiently, he 
could find a blank space in his register for any year desired, 
so the necessary record, ante-dated, might be made. For 



404 FLEET STREET 

consideration he would obliterate any entry. The sham bride- 
grooms, under different names, were married over and over 
again, with the full knowledge of the clerical practitioners ; 
sometimes they were women. The parent who found it 
necessary to legitimise his natural children could always 
discover a Fleet parson willing to give a marriage certificate 
in any required year. Couples were united only under the 
initials of their names, under false names, without names given 
at all. For payment a parson would sign a certificate without 
seeing either of the supposed contracting parties, and these 
papers might be used for the vilest ends. * 

There is a record in the Fleet registers, " The woman ran 
across Ludgate Hill in her shift," it being a popular fallacy 
long believed that where the wife brought nothing to her 
husband (not even a toilette) he could not be made liable for 
her prenuptial debts. 

Pitiful enough, the miseries which the Fleet marriages 
entailed were by no means confined to a single generation. 
Sir George Trevelyan has recalled how the succession to 
property was rendered doubtful and insecure. " Every day 
in term-time produced hearings in Chancery, or appeals in the 
Lords, concerning the validity of a marriage which had been 
solemnised thirty years before in the back-parlour of a public 
house, or in some still more degraded haunt of vice ; and the 
children might be ruined by an act of momentary folly, com- 
mitted when the father was a midshipman on leave from 
Sheerness, or a Westminster boy out for a half holiday." A 
sham marriage enters into the plot of half the novels of the 

1 Edmund Dangerfield was tried at the Old Bailey for bigamy in 
1736. The prisoner's defence was : " Arabella Fast said to me, 
' There's a minister (naming his name) who often lies with me, and 
if you'll say you are my husband we may get some money out of him.' 
I took a room for her, within a fortnight after ; she told me the parson 
was come to London, and now was the time to make him our prize. 
' Come into our room (says she) about ten o'clock at night.' I did, 
and I found Arabella and he a-bed. ' Hey ! (says I) how came you 
a-bed with my spouse.' ... In the morning the gentleman said, ' I 
must make you a present if you can produce a certificate.' I knew 
not what to say. ' Sir,' says Arabella, ' we were married at the Fleet,' 
and says she to me, ' For a crown I can get a certificate from the Fleet.' 
I gave her a crown, and in half an hour she brings me a certificate.' " 
Dr. Gaynam supplied the certificate. Dangerfield was acquitted. 
— Burn, The Fleet Registers, pp. 25-6. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 405 

period, and the fate which in fiction poor Olivia Primrose 
suffered, and the future Lady Grandison narrowly escaped, 
became a terrible reality to many of their sex. 

Parson Keith has survived in unsavoury memory as the most 
notorious of Fleet divines, though his traffic was mainly 
farther west. An episcopal Scottish minister, driven from his 
native land, and in desperate circumstances, he set up within 
the Fleet rules the trade which long after Lord Hardwicke's 
Marriage Act of 1753 was practised in front of the blacksmith's 
anvil at Gretna Green. Prospering there, he transferred his 
business to May Fair Chapel (near Hyde Park Corner) but was 
again forced to take refuge in the Fleet. It was said that he 
and his " journeyman " one morning during the Whitsuntide 
holidays united at May Fair a larger number of couples than had 
been married at any ten churches within the bills of mortality. 

This barefaced profligate, excommunicated by the Bishop 
of London, published The Guide : or, the Christian Pathway 
to Everlasting Life. He lived to be eighty-nine, and in old age 
issued some "Observations," framed in the key-note of "Happy 
is the wooing that is not long a-doing ! " on the legislation 
which destroyed his own disreputable trade. 1 It seems 
incredible, but Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act provoked much 
hostility. So level-headed a spectator of events as Horace 
Walpole wrote to Mrs. Conway, the 22nd May, 1753 — 

It is well you are married ! How would my Lady Ailesbury have 
liked to be asked in a parish church for three Sundays running ? I 
really believe she would have worn her weeds for ever rather than 
have passed through so impudent a ceremony ! What do you think ? 
But you will want to know the interpretation of this preamble. Why, 
there is a new bill, which, under the notion of preventing clandestine 
marriages, has made such a general rummage and reform in the office 
of matrimony, that every Strephon and Chloe will have as many 
impediments and formalities to undergo as a treaty of peace. Lord 
Bath invented the bill, but had it drawn so ill that the Chancellor 
was forced to draw a new one, and then grew so fond of his own creature, 
that he has crammed it down the throats of both Houses, though they 
gave many a gulp before they could swallow it. 

1 " I shall only tell you a bon mot of Keith's, the marriage broker, 
and conclude. ' D — n the Bishops,' said he (I beg Miss Montagu's 
pardon), ' so they will hinder my marrying. Well, let 'em, but I'll 
be revenged ; I'll buy two or three acres of ground, and, by G — d, I'll 
under-bury them all.' " — Horace Walpole, Letter to George Montagu, 
1753, June 11th. 



406 FLEET STREET 

On the 24th March, 1754, the day before the Act came 
into force, a list of 217 weddings celebrated is entered in 
one register book alone. 

Enough has been said already in pages scattered about this 
book to indicate the character of the Fleet Prison. Its litera- 
ture contains a long series of petitions and protests against 
cruelties, extortions, and excesses practised upon those incar- 
cerated in its gloomy wards. There had been an inquiry in 
Elizabeth's reign, and regulations made for its better gover- 
nance. Attention was again drawn to the gaol under James the 
First, during the wardenship of one Alexander Harris, when 
Sir John Whitebroke was stabbed to death there by a fellow- 
prisoner. Matters reached a head in the early years of the 
eighteenth century. 

The Warden was then John Huggins. By giving £5,000 to 
Lord Clarendon, this man had obtained through his lordship's 
interest a grant of the office for his own and his son's life. 
Huggins set to work to recoup himself with interest by gross 
cruelties to prisoners who had relatives to be squeezed, starva- 
tion being a favourite means — cruelties only to be bought 
off by liberal payments to himself. He even detained the dead, 
sometimes for ten or twelve days, causing great offence through- 
out the prison, while the price was worked up against relatives 
who desired to secure for them Christian burial. If negotia- 
tions failed, the bodies were thrown into the common burial 
ground for prisoners. 

Huggins, growing old, sold his entire interest in 1727, also for 
£5,000, to Thomas Bambridge and Dougal Cuthbert, two 
unprincipled ruffians who showed themselves capable of im- 
proving upon his own methods. Their reign was brief. 
Within two years both men were tried for murder, together 
with Huggins. A Parliamentary Committee, appointed to 
examine the state of the gaols, on making an unexpected visit 
to the Fleet found Sir Thomas Rich confined in a loathsome 
dungeon and loaded with chains, because he had given some 
slight offence to Bambridge. A poor Portuguese, Jacob 
Mendez, had been lying manacled for two months in a filthy 
hole properly used as a deadhouse, without warmth, ventilation, 
or light, save such as came through a wicket eight inches square 
in the door. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 407 

After inquiry, the Committee declared Huggins and Bam- 
bridge "notoriously guilty of great breaches of trust, extortions, 
cruelties, and other high crimes and misdemeanours." The two 
were sent to Newgate. The indictment charged Bambridge 
with the murder of one Robert Castell. This unfortunate 
man, an architect, was a prisoner for debt, from whose relatives 
Bambridge had extorted large sums. At length Castell refused 
to burden his friends farther, and Bambridge capped a long 
series of cruelties by sending him to a sponging-house in which 
scarlet fever was raging, and there he caught the infection and 
died in a few days. Huggins was accused of the death of a 
prisoner named Edward Arne, which followed confinement 
in the vault from which Jacob Mendez had been liberated. 
The trials at the Old Bailey in May, 1729, resulted in acquittals 
for want of evidence. CastelPs widow also brought an action 
against Bambridge and Cuthbert for the murder of her husband, 
with the same result. 

Bambridge, declared by Act of Parliament incapable of ever 
again holding the office of Warden of the Fleet, met with a 
fitting end. He cut his own throat on the 11th July, 1741, 
at his chambers, No. 9 Paper Buildings, Temple. 

You may see the figure of this abandoned scoundrel in 
Hogarth's portrait group of the members of the Parliamentary 
Committee now in the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar 
Square, and made familiar by many prints. The scene is a 
chamber in the old Fleet Gaol. In the foreground a prisoner 
explains the mode by which his neck and hands were manacled 
together. Some of the Committee are examining other 
instruments of torture, into which the heads and necks of 
prisoners were screwed. These seem to belong rather to the 
dungeons of the Inquisition than to a London debtors' prison. 
The picture was a gift to the nation by the ninth Earl of 
Carlisle. 

Hogarth gave his oil sketch to Horace Walpole, who wrote 
of Bambridge's portrait : " It is the very figure that Salvator 
Rosa would have drawn for Iago in the moment of detection. 
Villainy, fear, and conscience are mixed in yellow and livid 
on his countenance ; his lips are contracted by tremor, his 
face advances as eager to lie ; his legs step back as thinking 
to make his escape ; one hand is thrust precipitately into 
his bosom, the fingers of the other are catching uncertainly 



408 FLEET STREET 

at his button holes. If this was a portrait, it is the most 
striking that ever was drawn ; if it was not, it is still finer." 1 

An attorney named Lloyd who, fired by enthusiasm for the 
principles of the French Revolution, had in 1793 advertised 
the Fleet Prison to let, " in the first year of English liberty," 
was set for an hour in the pillory before the Royal Exchange. 
An immense concourse assembled, and 200 constables kept 
order, but no violence was attempted. 2 

The Fleet Prison remembered by our grandfathers was 
built in 1780, after the Gordon rioters had burnt the earlier 
gaol. It was ugliness personified, without the sombre grandeur 
of Dance's Newgate. A high brick wall, crowned with a 
chevaux de frise, concealed from below all but the roof of the 
lofty building enclosed, which was planned lengthways with 
Farringdon Street. Galleries ran from end to end in every 
storey, on each side being the prisoners' rooms. There was a 
constant going in and out, the public freely gaining admittance 
until the gate-keeper's cry, " All home ! " at nine o'clock, 
when the wards closed upon the occupants. It had been an 
early practice to exhibit to public shame in a tub at the gate 
those who attempted to escape. All sorts of provisions were 
brought in every day, and cried as in the public streets, for 
debtors who had means to purchase. The prisoners utilised 
a large open court as a racquet ground and skittle alley ; they 
had their " tape " shop, where spirits were sold under that 
name, and other means by which a dissolute life could be still 
further hastened downhill. 

The Fleet was a scandal still, according to modern ideas. 
" Garnish " every new-comer had to pay, and fees to the 
warders, the cook, and other officials if he wished for a tolerable 
life. When a debtor had means supplied by friends, a common 
method of extortion was to quarter another debtor of dis- 
reputable habits in his rooms, two occupants being allowed 
by the rules. The undesirable could be removed by payment 
to himself of a few shillings a week, and the same to the warder. 
The gaol was an improvement in that the cruelties practised 
in other days were no longer suffered ; but an improvement 
greater than all was its abolition by Act of Parliament in 1842, 

1 H. B. Wheatley, Hogarth's London, p. 391. 

2 Welch, Modern History of the City of London, p. 190. 




HEADS EXPOSED ON TEMPLE BAR 




From a print in possession of Mr. Aleck Abrahams 

ALDERMAN WAITHMAN's SHOP 



THE FLEET PARSONS 409 

the few inmates being then drafted to the Queen's Prison in 
Southwark. The land having been acquired by the City 
Corporation for £25,000, the buildings were taken down in 
1845-6, and the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway was 
carried across part of the site, after an interval of seventeen 
years, during which, while lying waste, it had been a resort of 
betting men, gamblers, and doubtful characters of the town 
generally. The remainder is covered by the Congregational 
Memorial Hall, in Farringdon Street. 

Like all the debtors' prisons, the Fleet had its begging 
grate and poor box for the charity of passers-by. The poor 
box in 1812 bore the following inscription — 

Da obolum insolventibus, 

Qui in hoc carcere, sine pane, sine pecunia, 

sine amicis, et oh ! sine libertate, 

Vitam miserrimam trahunt. ' 

Near at hand, the Royal Palace on the Fleet River bank 
had been converted into Bridewell Royal Hospital by the boy 
king Edward the Sixth. This foundation set the keystone to a 
policy whereby it was sought, wholly ineffectually, to combat 
the social evils in the capital resulting from the suppression of 
the religious houses. The great establishments like those 
of the Black Friars, across the stream, the Carmelite Priory 
in Fleet Street, and the scattered monasteries had been the 
chief agencies in the relief of the poor and afflicted, and with 
such had resorted, to take the friars' shelter and food, many 
idlers and persons of bad repute — afterwards thrown together 
upon the world, friendless and abandoned. London swarmed 
with beggars. Henry the Eighth, blind to his own doings, 
had himself reproachfully complained of the numbers of master- 
less men and rogues that were everywhere to be found, 
especially about London. 

In his last days he appointed Bethlem and St. Bartholo- 
mew's Hospital for the maimed and diseased. Edward the 
Sixth founded at the house of the dispossessed Grey Friars 
(Christ's Hospital) a school for the education of poor children ; 
and further granted Bridewell to the London citizens, to be a 
lodging wherein poor boys should be trained in useful trades, 

1 Notes and Queries, 2nd Ser., iv, 428. 



410 FLEET STREET 

and a house of correction for idle persons, vagabonds, and 
harlots. Ridley, Bishop of London, had moved the King 
to give the neglected Palace for this purpose. 

Lever, Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, preaching 
a Lent sermon before the youthful monarch, thus exhorted 
him : "O merciful Lord, what a number of poor, feeble, halt, 
blind, lame, sickly, yea, with idle vagabonds and dissembling 
caitiffs mixed among them, lie and creep, begging in the miry 
streets of London and Westminster ! It is too great pity afore 
the world, and to utter damnation afore God, to see these 
begging as they used to do in the street. For there is never a 
one of these but he lacketh either thy charitable alms to relieve 
his need, or else thy due correction to punish his fault." The 
isolated efforts of the hospitals, however, touched but the 
fringe of a great problem, which was grappled successfully only 
when the stronger statesmanship of Elizabeth introduced the 
first Poor Law system. 

There is a surprising revelation of the state of London in 
a document too long for me to quote in full. Great Elizabeth 
herself was molested by rogues when " in her coache nere 
Islington taking the air." Mr. Fleetwoode, Recorder of 
London, in his report to Lord Burghley 1 gives account of the 
steps he had taken, which kept Bridewell busy. A footman 
came in haste to the Lord Mayor, and after to the Recorder. 
That same night warrants were sent out. In the morning the 
Recorder went abroad himself, and took " seventy-four roogs, 
whereof some were blynde and yet great usurers and very rich," 
who were sent to Bridewell. The Governors, after examination, 
" gave them substantial payment [whipping]. And the 
stronger we bestowed on the mylle and the lighter ; the rest 
were dismyssed with the promise of a double paye if we met 
with them agayne." Next day from Lambeth and Southwark 
came " a shoal of xi roogs, men and women and above " ; 
in St. Paul's the same afternoon he took twenty- two " cloked 
roogs that there used to kepe standing." A night search 
brought more offenders to Bridewell, and " eche one receyed 
his payment according to his deserts ; at which tyme the 
strongest were put to worke, and the others dismissed into their 



1 This most interesting document is printed by Dr. Copeland, F.S.A., 
Bridewell Royal Hospital Past and Present, pp. 139-42. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 411 

countries." A batch of roysterers from the Savoy, " tall 
fellows, that were draymen unto brewers," were " all soundly 
paydd and sent home to their masters." For three days 
following came numbers of others : " they were rewarded all 
according to theyr deserts," and a night search resulted in the 
seizure of one hundred lewd persons, who were brought before 
the Master of Bridewell, and immediately given punishment. 

Such good results attended the week's activity, that going 
on the Saturday after to St. Paul's and other places as well 
within the liberties as elsewhere, the Recorder " founde not one 
rooge styrryng. . . I'd note also that wee mett not agayne 
with many in all our searches, they had receyed punishment." 

Bridewell was a reformatory for the City, and not a King's 
prison, but committals were made to it. The State Papers 
record many such : two of women are interesting. Blanche 
Cowper, prisoner of Bridewell, petitioned in 1640 Sir John 
Lambe, Chancellor to the Queen. She had been in prison since 
last Whitsuntide, " having humbled her soul to God, expressed 
true hate to sin by confession to man, and true sorrow and 
repentance, yet she remaineth in this loathsome place, accom- 
panied by vile persons, her health being impaired, and her 
soul grieved exceedingly. Beseeches you to grant her speedy 
liberty, and meantime the benefit of walking with a Keeper, 
to stay her perishing estate." x _ 

Elizabeth Pynfould, alias Squire, in 1639 petitioned the 
Council. She had been a prisoner for seven years in Bridewell, 
having been committed by a Council warrant, she knew not 
why, unless it was for petitioning the Lords to cause her 
husband to allow her means of livelihood. She prayed for 
liberty, and to be supplied with means. The woman's husband 
was minister of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch. 2 

A use of Bridewell made by Charles the First was the deten- 
tion of men pressed for his army, until despatched to their 
regiments. Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker, was a prisoner. 
There are in the Council Books of Elizabeth, attached to 
committals to Bridewell, the words, " to the manacles," " to 
such torture as is there used," and in one case at least, that of 
Will Thompson (2nd February, 1598) charged with a purpose 



1 State Papers (Domestic), 1640, April. 

2 iUiA icon 



ibid., 1639. 



412 FLEET STREET 

to burn Her Majesty's ships, " to the torture of the rack," 
which suggest dark doings in this misused house of reformation. 

The Governors read their charter as placing upon them a 
duty to relieve the City of idle and disorderly characters. 
It was vigorous work. They sent out officers to search taverns, 
dicing-houses, and places of evil resort. Beadles were in- 
structed to bring in to Bridewell all beggars and vagrants 
found in their wards. Unhappy the vagrom man introduced 
to the civility of the house ! The whipping-post, for men 
and moment was kept busy, and having suffered what was 
judged to be a sufficient number of stripes, the victims were 
sent away. There is little doubt that this police work and 
summary punishment were wholly illegal. Sir Francis Bacon 
gave his opinion that accusations against persons of ill repute 
were not sufficient without indictment or other matters of 
record, and that imprisonment save by the law of the land was 
an infringement of Magna Charta. 1 

Yet the practice continued until 1785, when the porter was 
ordered to receive no prisoners save on a warrant by a justice 
of the peace. For those detained there was a mill for grinding 
corn by the feet, the invention of one John Paris about the 
year 1570 — probably the first instance of a treadmill used for 
punishment — beating of hemp, and various tasks of labour. 
Ned Ward, in his London Spy (1699) has given an unsavoury 
account of the prison, and is properly indignant at the flogging 
of^women, which he describes — 

My Friend Re-conducted me back into the first Quadrangle, and 
led me up a pair of Stairs into a Spacious Chamber, where the Court 
was sitting in great Grandeur and Order. A Grave Gentleman, whose 
Awful Looks bespoke him some Honourable Citizen, was mounted in 
the Judgment-Seat, Arm'd with a Hammer, like a Change-Broker at 
Lloyd's Coffee House, when selling goods by Inch by Candle, and a 
Woman under the Lash in the next Room ; where Folding doors were 
open'd, that the whole Court might see the Punishment Inflicted ; at 
last down went the Hammer, and the Scourging ceased. . . . Another 
Accusation being then delivered by a Flat-Cap against a poor Wench, 
who having no Friend to speak in her behalf, Proclamation was made, 
viz. : All you who are willing E — th T — 11, should have present Punish- 
ment, pray hold up your hands. Which was done accordingly : And 
then she was order'd the Civility of the House, and was forc'd to shew 
her tender Back and Breasts to the Grave Sages of the August Assembly, 

1 Copeland, Bridewell Royal Hospital, p. 61. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 413 

who were mov'd by her Modest Mien, together with the whiteness of 
her Skin, to give her but a gentle Correction. 

The inner room, draped from floor to ceiling in black, con- 
tained no furniture save the whipping post. Loud calls to 
knock, especially when women were punished, were incessant 
until the president's hammer fell. " O good Sir Roger, knock : 
Pray, good Sir Roger, knock ! " became a common cry of 
reproach among the lower orders, to denote that a woman had 
been whipped as a harlot in Bridewell. Ned Ward held it a 
shameful indecency for a woman to expose her naked body to 
the gaze of men and boys : in the despicable state of public 
manners it was one of the sights of the town to see the women 
flogged. 

Later the beating of hemp was substituted as a punishment. 
The interior of the shed at Bridewell, with, as the central 
figure, a girl handsomely dressed in a flowered brocade petti- 
coat, raising a heavy " beetle," while a warder stands 
threateningly beside her, is shown in Plate 4 of Hogarth's 
A Harlot's Progress. 

The gaol became too crowded for proper supervision, and 
in 1818 was severely condemned by a House of Commons 
Committee. No attempt, they said, was made to reclaim 
prisoners, or to correct them, except by administering corporal 
punishment, and this was left in great measure to the discretion 
of the porter. No employment of any description was pro- 
vided. A few women worked at spinning wheels, but the 
men for the most part sauntered about. 

Bridewell's penal discipline has so monopolised the attention 
of writers that the excellent work the Royal Hospital has 
done, and is still doing, is apt to be overshadowed. The 
Bridewell boys were a somewhat turbulent race. They were 
apprenticed to various trades, originally taught by "art- 
masters " in the house, and having faithfully served their 
indentures were made freemen of the City, and to each one 
was given £10 towards setting up for himself. In their awk- 
ward dress of tight blue cloth jackets without skirts, clumsy 
trousers of the same thick stuff, and white hats, they were 
familiar to the public by their privilege of attending fires, doing, 
says Hone in his Every-day Book, more mischief by their 
audacity and perverseness than they did good by working the 
Bridewell engine. 



414 FLEET STREET 

To-day the entire income of the foundation is devoted to 
the support of the King Edward's Schools at Witley, Surrey, 
and at Southwark, where 240 boys and 240 girls respectively 
are educated and given a start in life. Sir George Faudel- 
Phillips, Bart., has since 1897 been President of Bridewell Royal 
Hospital, the Governors of which are also Governors of Bethlem 
Hospital. 

Bridewell ceased to be a prison when Holloway Gaol was 
opened in 1864. The only surviving relic of the penal days is 
a single cell to accommodate recalcitrant City apprentices who 
may be committed there by the City Chamberlain, but it is 
rarely used. 

The exhalations of the Fleet River have sent a pungent 
breath into many of the foregoing chapters. That is its 
history ; and always the story has been the same, for the little 
stream flowing clear from the northern heights below the 
western wall of London, that might have been such an attractive 
feature of the suburb, has left through the centuries nothing 
save the trail of its stink. It is known only by the deplorable 
abuses to which from the earliest times the watercourse was 
subjected. 

Late in the thirteenth century the Carmelite friars laid 
plaint : " Help, lest we perish of the stench." Lacy Earl of 
Lincoln petitioned the Parliament of Edward the First. The 
butchers of the third Edward, establishing shambles on the 
bank, sent their offal floating down to Thames ; tanners 
offended with their reeking pits ; the steaming cook-shops. 
The tale runs on through Plantagenet to Tudor days with 
unvarying monotony ; at times the plague, raging with the 
utmost virulence in the parishes which bordered the fetid 
ditch, awakened Londoners to the gravity of the peril. 

Such had been the case in Henry the Eighth's reign. 

But the plague passed, and after came forge tfulness. Fleet 
Ditch it had become early in the Elizabethan era ; in 1585 
" the common sewer at Fleet Bridge " was the description 
given by Thomas Greves, Surveyor of the Queen's Works — 
an apt description. He proposed the erection of larger flood- 
gates, so as to admit a barge eighteen feet broad and give a 
better tidal flush. 1 A survey seems to have been carried 

1 State Papers (Domestic), 1585, March. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 415 

out at the instigation of Richard Mayhew, bailiff of the sewers of 
London, who, at his own cost, had undertaken certain works of 
improvement, and complained that for seven years they had 
been neglected ; but the Mayor and Aldermen were concerned 
only to demonstrate the falseness of his suggestions. 1 

Eight years after plague again desolated London, and 
William Cecil, an inmate of Fleet Prison, and kept there by 
the Queen's command, wrote (6th April, 1593) that " the 
place where he lies is a congregation of the unwholesome smells 
of the town, and the season contagious, so many have died 
of the plague." From a memorial preserved in the State 
Papers, it appears that the neighbourhood of Fleet Ditch had 
been the most infected part of the whole city and liberties 
during that terrible plague year. " In the last great plague, 
[1593] more died about there than in three parishes beside . . . 
and though the ditch were cast [cleansed] every second year, 
yet the water coming from the kennels and the slaughter- 
houses will be very contagious." 2 

The reforming zeal of the Commonwealth was excited. 
On renewed complaint to the Commissioners of Sewers in 1652, 
an order was issued for the cleansing of Fleet Ditch and the 
removal of the " houses of office " which overhung its waters, 
and made it what the Commissioners call " very stinking and 
noisome." The ditch is described as quite impassable for 
boats " by reason of many encroachments thereupon made 
by keeping of hogs and swine therein and elsewhere near it, 
the throwing in of offals and other garbage by butchers, 
soucemen, and others, and by reason of the many houses of 
office standing over and upon it." 

In consequence of this order (a printed copy of the time 
is in the British Museum) the ditch was cleansed, and the 
offending buildings were removed from about it. 3 

St. Bride's and St. Martin's, Ludgate, two Fleet-side 
parishes, had suffered severely in the plague of 1665. A year 
after came the Great Fire, and the long-delayed opportunity 
which London, for once to its credit, did not miss. The 
improvement of the Fleet was seriously taken in hand, and a 

1 Remembrancer, p. 459. 

2 Creighton's History of Epidemics. 

8 Wheatley, London Past and Present, ii, 53. 



416 FLEET STREET 

great scheme, costing £27,777, was carried to completion by the 
Corporation ; this charge being apart from the sum paid for 
additional land required. Ditch no longer, it was called 
" The New Canal," no doubt in the hope that with another 
name and better conditions its evil associations had for ever 
passed. The watercourse was built on the sides with brick 
and stone, made 40 feet wide, and deepened so that barges 
could ascend with the tide as far as Holborn. All the small 
tenements, sheds, and laystalls that encumbered the banks 
having fortunately been burnt down, a general clearance was 
effected, and wide and commodious quays built, with landing 
steps from the water. The full breadth of Farringdon Street, 
one of London's finest thoroughfares, shows the extent of this 
daring scheme. 

Fleet Bridge was rebuilt of stone, widened to meet the 
greater width of Fleet Street towards Ludgate, and ornamented 
with carved pine-apples and the City arms. Pepys approved 
the work, " which pleased me mightily," and tells in his diary 
how he had to go round by Newgate to the City while it was 
in progress. Three other stone bridges spanned the water 
at Bridewell, Fleet Lane, and Holborn. Oak rails were placed 
at the waterside. All this was done under the Rebuilding Act 
of Charles the Second, 1670, and Wren's Holborn Bridge, 
designed to set the coping stone upon the improvement, was 
finished in 1674, bearing an inscription commemorating the 
Mayoralty of William Hooker in that year. 

It might have been a bit of Venice in London, with its high- 
arched bridges, and the once Royal Palace of Bridewell and 
Fleet Prison on the banks, wanting only a gondola or two and 
a deeper blue above. Unfortunately it was not. 

" A mighty chargeable and beautiful work : the curious 
stone bridges over it ; the many huge vaults on either side, 
to treasure up Newcastle coals for the use of the poor," wrote 
Chamberlayne. The beauty of the scheme is, I think, amply 
borne out by Scott's oil-painting of the Fleet mouth in the 
Guildhall Art Gallery ; the Thames has no such cosy corner 
in these days of hurry and steam. 

The Canal proved a most disastrous speculation. Owing 
to its great cost, the tolls for barges and rent of wharves were 
excessively high, and very little traffic passed. Care was not 
taken even to keep the way clean, and as the mud silted up 



THE FLEET PARSONS 417 

and the stench revived, it degenerated once more into the old, 
bad Fleet Ditch, and was quite as unsavoury. Ned Ward, in 
his London Spy, before the century was out poured scorn upon 
the much vaunted improvement — 

From thence we took a turn down by the Ditch side, I desiring my 
friend to inform me what great advantage this costly brook contributed 
to the town, to countervail the expense of £74,000, which I read in a 
very credible author was the charge of its making : He told me he was 
wholly unacquainted with any, unless it was now and then to bring 
up a few chaldron of coals to two or three peddling fuel-merchants, 
who sell them never the cheaper to the poor for such a conveniency ; 
and as for those cellars you see on each side design'd for warehouses, 
they are rendered by their dampness so unfit for that purpose that 
they are wholly useless except ... to harbour frogs, toads, and other 
vermin. The greatest good that ever I heard it did was to the under- 
taker, who is bound to acknowledge he has found better fishing in 
that muddy stream than ever he did in clear water. 

The ditch sank more and more into the state of an open 
sewer, fit subject for the contemptuous satire of every ribald 
versifier of the age. A collection of Fleet Ditch odes would 
not be edifying. There was nothing for it but to cover up the 
offence from sight. This was half done in the reign of George 
the First. The Corporation of London obtained an Act of 
Parliament giving them powers to arch over the ditch from 
Holborn to Fleet Bridge, and the work was undertaken in 
1733. The cost is given in the accounts to a halfpenny — 
£10,256 17s. lOJd. 

Land being required for the Mansion House, the official 
residence for the Lord Mayor then about to be built, the 
Stocks Market was removed to the site thus created, and 
reopened as a free market, under the name of Fleet Market, 
on the 30th September, 1737. This was a busy scene at all 
times, particularly in the season of fruit and vegetables ; 
flesh and fish were also sold from the stalls, and the market 
was a famous place for crockery ware. At its southern end 
two lock-up shops were built, continuing the line of Fleet 
Street over the ditch. Malcolm complained in 1803 that the 
never-ceasing hammers of undertakers seemed to have expelled 
more quiet trades. 

Below Fleet Bridge past Bridewell to the Thames, the 
ditch remained the same yawning chasm of mud and filth and 
fetid water, smelling rank as ever. The high crowned bridge, 

87— (2246) 



418 FLEET STREET 

then levelled with the street, was buttressed on the south side 
to prevent passengers falling over, a necessary precaution — 

On the 11th January (1703) a man was found in Fleet Ditch, standing 
upright and frozen. He appears to have been a barber at Bromley in 
Kent ; had come to town to see his children, and had unfortunately 
mistaken his way in the night, had slipped into the ditch, and, being in 
liquor, could not disentangle himself. 1 

A like accident occurred in 1765, when during a dense fog a 
man slipped into Fleet Ditch, and was suffocated by the mud. 

What the open Fleet had been throughout its length two 
passages shall show. Pope, in The Dunciad (Book II) penning 
his most vitriolic attack on the scurrilous writers and book- 
sellers of his day, found Fleet Ditch by Bridewell the most 
appropriate setting for his famous diving scene — 

This labour past, by Bridewell all descend, 

(As morning pray'r and flagellation end) 

To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams 

Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames, 

The King of Dykes ! than whom, no sluice of mud, 

With deeper sable blots the silver flood. 

" Here strip, my children, here at once leap in, 

Here prove who best can dash thro' thick and thin. 

And who the most in love of dirt excel, 

Or dark dexterity of groping well." 

Swift, in The City Shower, with which began the publication 
of The Tatler, October, 1710, is distressingly photographic in 
detail — 

Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow, 

And bear their trophies with them as they go ; 

Filth of all kinds and odours seem to tell 

What street they sail'd from by their sight and smell. 

They, as each torrent drives its rapid force, 

From Smithfield to St. Pulchre's shape their course 

And in huge confluence joined at Snowhill ridge, 

Fall from the Conduit prone to Holborn Bridge ; 

Sweepings from butcher's stalls, dung, guts, and blood, 

Drown'd puppies, stinking sprats, all drench'd in mud, 

Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood. 

The polite Lord Chesterfield made an effective retort upon 
an enthusiastic Parisian who asked him if London had any 
river to show like the Seine : " Yes, and we call it Fleet Ditch." 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 33, p. 43. 



THE FLEET PARSONS 419 

Not until 1766 was the half-completed work finished, when 
the remaining part of the Fleet was covered over to make an 
approach to the first Thames bridge at Blackfriars. Since 
then this much- abused stream has flowed underground. Far- 
ringdon Street along its length from Holborn to Ludgate 
Circus is supported by two arches, and thence to Blackfriars 
Bridge and the Thames is but a single arch. As a rule, there 
is a strong flow along the channel made in the Fleet River bed, 
but much of this is surface water ; probably little now comes 
from springs. The river discharges at Blackfriars into the 
great low-level sewer, but there is still direct communication 
with the Thames, which is brought into use when violent 
rainstorm or any breakdown in the main drainage pumping 
machinery may tax the capacity of the sewer. The penstock 
is immediately under the shore end of the bridge. When the 
tide has fallen low, exposing a semicircular culvert, you may 
at times notice a trickle over the mud mingling with the waters 
that go down to the sea — all that is left to be seen of the 
famous Fleet River. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

LITERARY LANDMARKS 

In this book, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not 
be forgotten that much likewise is performed ; and though no 
book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is 
little solicitous to know whence proceed the faults of that which 
it condemns ; yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that the 
English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, 
and without any patronage of the great ; not in the soft obscurities 
of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amidst 
inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and sorrow. — Samuel 
Johnson, Preface to " The English Dictionary ," written in Gough 
Square. 

No street in London is so rich in memories of the great writers 
of the English tongue as Fleet Street, or so heedless of them. 
They are worth preserving. Of Shakespeare's plays sold by 
the booksellers under St. Dunstan's Church I have already 
spoken. • The venerable hall stands amid the secluded courts 
of Middle Temple wherein Twelfth Night was acted at Christmas, 
1601. Milton's soaring spirit fretted uneasily for a while in 
cramped lodgings in St. Bride's Churchyard. These are great 
names, illuminating a century of literary activity that stands 
alone ; but much else in English literature that fives, and will 
always live, has been associated with the locality. Fleet Street, 
given over to the newspapers and to its busy shopping trade, 
cares nothing for these things. 

Walk the street from end to end, and you will not find a 
brick or stone, not a single plaque, to recall the colony of 
writers who made it their home. Fleet Street is not wholly 
blind to fame. An obelisk at Ludgate Circus perpetuates the 
renown of Alderman Waithman, a forgotten local worthy. 
John Wilkes, too. But Samuel Johnson, that most persistent 
of Fleet Street's habituis, where is he ? You must go beyond 
Temple Bar, to St. Clement Danes, to find his statue, and that 
erected only yesterday. Oliver Goldsmith lived, and accom- 
plished his most enduring work, and died and was buried, 
within earshot of the roar of Fleet Street. His marble tablet, 
with Johnson's glowing epitaph, is in Westminster Abbey. 

The English novel had its birth in Salisbury Square, where 

420 



LITERARY LANDMARKS 421 

Samuel Richardson wrote those florid and, to this generation, 
excessively tedious letters of Pamela. What is there of 
Richardson ? A gravestone wholly concealed within the church 
of St. Bride's. Dry den, too, lived and wrote in Salisbury 
Court. Ben Jonson spent jovial nights at The Devil tavern ; 
and far from him as the poles asunder, in worldly delights and 
in spirit, was the gentle Elia, whose shade, one must needs 
fancy, still haunts his beloved Temple. Stay, there is in 
Fleet Street an inconspicuous memorial — a solitary one — to 
a writer, and not the greatest. By the entrance porch of 
St. Dunstan's Church is a tablet, which some anglers have 
placed there, bearing this inscription — 

To the Memory of 

Izaak Walton 

Born at Stafford, Aug. 9th, 1593, Died Dec. 15th, 1683. 

Buried in Winchester Cathedral. 

Author of The Compleat Angler, also of the Lives of Dr. Donne, 

Richard Hooker, George Herbert, Dr. Sanderson, etc. 

It tells further that Walton resided for many years in 
Fleet Street, by the corner of Chancery Lane (west side), and 
between 1632 and 1644 was overseer of the poor, a sidesman, 
and a vestryman of St. Dunstan's parish. And so the anglers, 
close to his old home, recall the memory of their gentle master, 
that all who pass may read, while those who follow the profes- 
sion of the pen are content to remain inactive. It cannot be 
so for want of occasion. 

Wynkyn de Worde brought the art of printing to Fleet 
Street, which has given its character these past four centuries, 
and made its name familiar all over the globe. He set up his 
press under the sign of The Sun, near St. Bride's Church, and 
there from his clear types produced those prints that it is still 
a delight to scan in some collection like that at the British 
Museum. His was a picturesque figure, and in him was a life 
germ of stupendous growth. Was he not worth commemorat- 
ing ? Tyndal preached in St. Dunstan's Church. The origina- 
tors of the Temple Bar Memorial had no ideas beyond the 
Victorian Royal House, and so it stands to-day, a meaningless 
obstruction, typifying nothing save the City's loyalty, which is 
unquestioned and unquestionable — a monument of wasted 
opportunity. There might have been something to tell the 



422 FLEET STREET 

traveller who enters the City by this gate of men associated 
with the street whose lives left a deep impression on their age, 
of forces born and moulded here that have moved the world. 
Instead, we have the griffon ! 

Vain regrets. There are still a few surviving landmarks of 
the past, and the pleasanter task is to recall the literary 
associations of courts and buildings. First, one's steps turn 
naturally towards the Temple, to seek the rooms at No. 2 
Brick Court where Oliver Goldsmith passed the closing years 
of his warm-hearted, irresponsible, thriftless life, and to enter 
that pathetic little chamber where he breathed his last. This 
is but a square cupboard — it is little more — with no ventilation 
through the other walls, and lighted only by a dim pane of 
glass or the open door. All is unchanged, save that by the 
present tenant the apartment has been stuffed with books ; 
a fitting use, and one that no doubt " Goldie " himself would 
have liked best. The house stands halfway in Middle Temple 
Lane, and the rooms are two floors up, on the right hand 
ascending the staircase. A plaque in the wall marks the set. 

Goldsmith came to these rooms in 1768 ; with a cheerful 
spirit, for the outlook was bright ; he had money in hand, 
although then, as always, deeply in debt. The success of 
The Good-Natured Man at Covent Garden Theatre, after the 
comedy had been refused by Garrick, had brought him about 
£500, out of which he purchased a life-lease of the chambers. 
Johnson is believed to have first spurred on Goldsmith to 
improve upon his customarily squalid surroundings, little as 
encouragement in extravagance was needed. He had been a 
Templar before, at Garden Court, and then in King's Bench 
Walk. The lease at Brick Court cost him £400, and the 
balance was soon squandered. As you stand to-day in the 
charming old sitting room, with three long windows over- 
looking Essex Court, where the leaves of the trees rustling in 
the wind fleck the glass panes with shadow, it is easy to imagine 
the apartments when Goldsmith himself occupied them, 
furnished with Wilton carpets, blue moreen-covered sofas and 
chairs corresponding, blue moreen curtains, chimney glasses, 
Pembroke and card tables, and tasteful bookshelves. 

This amply-proportioned room was that in which Goldsmith 
gave his parties ; his workshop was the smaller room on Brick 
Court, now in use as a bed-chamber. Mr. H. Hamilton Fox, 








X 



w 

o S 



W X 

2 >* 

< c- 

C/3 Q 



LITERARY LANDMARKS 423 

the present occupant of the chambers, has followed the example 
of many previous tenants by treating them with reverent 
care. Some carvings, picked out, in curious taste, in florid 
reds and blues and greens, have been coated with sombre 
black, much to their advantage. Structurally there have been 
no alterations. 

The social life into which Goldsmith launched when settled 
in Brick Court added to his embarrassments. The bills of 
Mr. Filby, the tailor at The Harrow in Water Lane, hard by, 
grew larger. The " Tyrian bloom satin-grain, and garter-blue 
silk breeches " were charged at £8 2s. 7d. Another suit was 
" lined with silk, and with gold buttons." You may picture 
that clumsy little figure here at home, the plain features marked 
with small-pox, and short thick legs, arrayed " in purple silk 
small-clothes, a handsome scarlet roquelaure buttoned close 
under the chin, and with all the additional importance derivable 
from a full-dress professional wig, a sword, and a gold-headed 
cane/' * Often might have been seen the unwieldy form of 
Samuel Johnson toiling up these same oak stairs, of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, of David Garrick, and Edmund Burke, and Hugh 
Kelly, and others of that brilliant circle of conversationalists 
in which the host did not shine. There is Garrick's playful 
epitaph of him — 

Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll, 
Who wrote like an angel, but talked like poor Poll. 

It has been given to the discerning eye of modern criticism, 
which penetrates farther than is permitted the sight of con- 
temporaries, to discover that Goldsmith was a brilliant talker. 
Admit that he said many good things : his description of 
Boswell as " only a bur that Tom Davies (the bookseller) threw 
at Johnson in jest, and he has stuck to him ever since " ; his 
suggestion to enlarge the club because the original members 
had by that time " travelled over each other's minds " ; his 
happy remark that if Johnson made little fishes talk, he would 
make them talk like whales — these are not to be improved 
upon. I doubt, however, if Goldsmith did anything so foolish 
as the attempts of his latest biographers to rob his character 
of its lovable follies. 

Goldsmith, it well may be, was happier in those more humble 

* Forster's Life of Goldsmith. 



424 FLEET STREET 

entertainments in which his could be the lion's part. Recollec- 
tions of delightful days have been left by the family of Mr. 
Seguin, an Irish merchant, to two of whose children Goldsmith 
stood godfather, and who were guests at Brick Court. " They 
talked," says Forster, " of supper-parties with younger people, 
as well in the London chambers as in suburban lodgings, 
preceded by blindman's buff, forfeits, or games of cards, and 
where Goldsmith, festively entertaining them all, would make 
frugal supper for himself off boiled milk. They related how 
he would sing all kinds of Irish songs ; with what special enjoy- 
ment he gave the Scotch ballad of " Johnny Armstrong " (his 
old nurse's favourite) ; how cheerfully he would put the front 
of his wig behind, or contribute in any other way to the general 
amusement ; and to what accompaniment of uncontrollable 
laughter he danced a minuet with Mrs. Seguin." Blackstone, 
labouring at his Commentaries in the rooms immediately below, 
was much disturbed in the work on which successive genera- 
tions of rising barristers have been nurtured, by the noise of 
revelry that went on over his head. A Mr. Children succeeded 
him, and made the same complaint. 

; -London's distractions interfered with Goldsmith's work, and 
for spells of serious labour he went into country lodgings. 
She Stoops to Conquer was written at Hyde, on a farm six miles 
on the Edgware Road, to which he often retired. For this 
reason there is difficulty in saying where his manuscripts were 
produced. He appears to have written in Brick Court the 
greater part of The Deserted Village, which many consider 
his most characteristic and beautiful poem. It was com- 
menced in 1768, soon after arrival there. His young lawyer 
friend and fellow Templar, Cooke, calling when two days' 
progress upon the poem had been made, found that ten lines 
(fifth to fourteenth)]had been the morning's output ; and when 
Cooke entered his chambers Goldsmith read them aloud — 
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, 
Seats of my youth, when every sport would please, 
How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, 
Where humble happiness endear'd each scene ! 
How often have I paused on every charm, 
The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm, 
The never failing brook, the busy mill, 
The decent church that topp'd the neighbouring hill, 
The hawthorn bush with seats beneath the shade 
For talking age and whispering lovers made. 



LITERARY LANDMARKS 425 

" Come," added Goldsmith, " let me tell you this is no bad 
morning's work ; and now, my dear boy, if you are not better 
engaged, I should be glad to enjoy a shoemaker's holiday 
with you." The invitation was a prelude to a ramble from 
the Temple into the country. 

For six years Goldsmith maintained close associations with 
the Temple ; broken by many intervals of absence. Happy 
days were spent when he left care behind, and visited Paris, 
accompanying Mrs. Horneck and her two daughters, whom he 
had known through Reynolds. He was in Brick Court in 1773 
when a libel by his old enemy Kenrick, printed in the London 
Packet, roused in him ideas of personal vengeance. Kenrick 
had written insultingly of his passion for the lovely Mary 
Horneck, the " Jessamy Bride." Goldsmith sallied out to the 
shop of Evans, the publisher, and struck him with his cane. 
A struggle ensued ; an overturned lamp swinging from the 
ceiling covered both combatants with oil, and the angry poet, 
a sorry figure, rode home to the Temple in a coach. He paid 
£50 to a Welsh charity to compromise a threatened law suit. 

Goldsmith returned to Brick Court from Hyde in the middle 
of March, 1774. He had seen his Animated Nature, upon which 
he had worked in the country, ready for the press, its proceeds 
long since received and spent ; and the burden of debt crushed 
his spirit. He was worried and ill. " Was ever poet so trusted 
before ? " asked Johnson, reporting Goldsmith's debts to be 
£2,000. On the 25th of that month he took to his bed. Less 
than a fortnight's life remained to him. "Is your mind at 
ease ? " asked Dr. Turton, who attended at the bedside. 
" No, it is not," was Goldsmith's melancholy answer. These 
were his last words, and at a quarter to five on the morning of 
Monday, the 4th April, 1774, he expired. I have stood in the 
stuffy little death chamber, now a library, shut out from the 
fresh air and the sunlight that floods the open spaces of the 
Temple, and tried to imagine that moment, and the loss. 
Goldsmith was but forty-five. 

Burke burst into tears when told the news. Reynolds put 
aside his palate, and did not re-enter the painting room that 
day. Proposals were made for a public funeral, b